Weekend Box Office (December 20 - 22, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Plenty of new faces popped up in the North American top ten but the Middle Earth tentpole The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug remained at number one with an estimated $31.5M falling a reasonable 57% in its second round. After ten-plus days, the Warner Bros. release has amassed $127.5M which is off 15% from the $150.1M that last year's An Unexpected Journey grossed over the exact same period. That film dropped by a similar 56% in its second weekend. Hobbit collected a massive $96M overseas this weekend pushing the international haul to $276.3M and the global gross to a potent $403.8M with much more to come over the holiday weeks ahead.

Opening in second place was the comedy sequel Anchorman 2 with an estimated $26.8M weekend and $40M since its debut on Tuesday night. The Paramount release averaged $7,635 from 3,507 locations and had a Friday-to-Sunday take that was just below the $28.4M of its 2004 predecessor. The midweek launch diluted down the weekend numbers, however ticket prices were much lower nine years ago.

With only a $50M budget, the new installment of the Will Ferrell franchise should have no problem turning a profit from its worldwide run. The audience this weekend was much more male (62%) and 56% over 25. Reviews were generally good (considering it is a comedy sequel) but the B CinemaScore grade indicates that paying fans were only moderately satisfied. Oscar hopeful American Hustle may have put a little dent into sales with its expansion as it also played to adults looking for a laugh, and had more cross-gender appeal too. But with the holidays coming up soon when everyday from Christmas to New Years behaves like a Saturday at the turnstiles, Anchorman still has plenty of potential ahead.

Disney's animated blockbuster Frozen slipped only 15% in its fourth weekend of wide release to an estimated $19.2M bumping the cume up to a stellar $191.6M. Elsa and Anna may crack $200M on Christmas Day. The global gross has climbed up to $344.2M thanks to more overseas traction led by Europe.

The all-star package American Hustle followed its sizzling platform debut with a solid nationwide expansion coming in an inch behind at number four with an estimated $19.1M from 2,507 theaters. The Sony awards player starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner averaged a commendable $7,619 per site. Reviews from critics have been sensational, but paying audiences were a little less impressed giving it a B+ grade from CinemaScore. Adult moviegoers are expected to keep coming out over the holidays for Hustle which has earned seven Golden Globe nominations. Total with the limited run is $20.2M.

Disney's own awards hopeful Saving Mr. Banks went national after a week in limited play and saw results that were respectable but not amazing. The Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson pic grossed an estimated $9.3M from 2,110 sites for a mediocre $4,418 average. It is not the most urgently awaited film so the PG-13 pic will attempt to draw its audience over time over the holidays banking on word-of-mouth to make the buzz spread. Cume is $9.9M and the A CinemaScore bodes well for its future. Skewing much older, 61% of the crowd was 35 or older while 57% was female.

Off 36% was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with an estimated $8.8M raising the total to $371.7M. Fellow Lionsgate title A Madea Christmas dropped 47% in its sophomore frame to an estimated $8.5M for $28.3M to date.

The animated film Walking with Dinosaurs got off to a soft start debuting to an estimated $7.3M from 3,231 theaters for a weak $2,259 average. The PG-rated adventure faced stiff competition from the still-strong Frozen but will aim to reach its target audience of families slowly over the next two weeks when children will be out of school most of the time.

Generating the biggest opening weekend ever for a Bollywood film in North America, the action sequel Dhoom 3 took ninth place with an estimated $3.3M from 236 locations for a $14,004 average for Yash Raj Films. Rounding out the top ten was Thor: The Dark World with an estimated $1.3M, down 53%, for a $200.8M cume thus far. Worldwide tally is now $627.1M for Disney and its Marvel unit.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $135M which was up 39% from last year when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey stayed at number one with $36.9M; and up 12% from 2011 when Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol debuted wide in the top spot with $29.6M.

Compared to projections, Anchorman 2 came in below my $32M forecast while American Hustle was close to my $18M prediction. Walking with Dinosaurs and Saving Mr. Banks were both close to my respective projections of $8M and $9M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the teaser trailer for Interstellar. For a review of American Hustle visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Wednesday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 47 Ronin, The Wolf of Wall Street, Grudge Match and Believe all open on Christmas Day.

# Title Dec 20 - 22 Dec 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug $ 31,505,278 $ 73,645,197 -57.2 3,928 2 $ 8,021 $ 127,550,695 Warner Bros.
2 Anchorman 2 26,776,000 3,507 1 7,635 40,000,000 Paramount
3 Frozen 19,642,107 22,568,138 -13.0 3,540 5 5,549 192,034,117 Disney
4 American Hustle 19,106,933 740,455 2,507 2 7,621 20,220,301 Sony
5 Saving Mr. Banks 9,344,381 413,373 2,110 2 4,429 9,969,867 Disney
6 Hunger Games: Catching Fire 8,764,479 13,671,666 -35.9 2,949 5 2,972 371,718,275 Lionsgate
7 A Madea Christmas 8,384,980 16,007,634 -47.6 2,194 2 3,822 28,155,257 Lionsgate
8 Walking the Dinosaurs 7,091,938 3,231 1 2,195 7,091,938 Fox
9 Dhoom 3 3,422,590 239 1 14,320 3,422,590 Yash Raj
10 Thor: The Dark World 1,341,763 2,820,055 -52.4 1,116 7 1,202 200,779,871 Disney
11 Philomena 1,210,637 1,820,479 -33.5 738 5 1,640 13,322,189 Weinstein Co.
12 Inside Llewyn Davis 1,081,364 356,785 203.1 148 3 7,307 2,132,514 CBS
13 The Book Thief 753,408 1,734,679 -56.6 680 7 1,108 16,596,997 Fox
14 Nebraska 580,000 911,784 -36.4 310 6 1,871 4,386,000 Paramount
15 Homefront 526,672 1,706,286 -69.1 675 4 780 19,783,777 Open Road
16 Delivery Man 486,339 1,968,891 -75.3 663 5 734 29,279,225 Disney
17 Gravity 431,497 745,457 -42.1 302 12 1,429 253,567,282 Warner Bros.
18 The Best Man Holiday 393,120 1,055,690 -62.8 351 6 1,120 69,794,435 Universal
19 Dallas Buyers Club 382,846 1,174,269 -67.4 330 8 1,160 15,156,122 Focus
20 12 Years A Slave 370,090 732,825 -49.5 301 10 1,230 37,080,316 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 106,374,699 $ 128,712,690 -17.4
Top 10 135,380,449 138,369,003 -2.2
Top 20 141,596,422 145,396,570 -2.6
Top 20 vs. 2012 141,596,422 107,888,120 31.2

Last Updated: December 22, 2013 at 6:00PM ET

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