Weekend Box Office (December 27 - 29, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND On the final frame of 2013, studios shoved six new wide releases into the marketplace but holiday moviegoers chose holdovers instead as The Hobbit stayed at number one while the month-old animated smash Frozen enjoyed a Christmas surge finishing close behind in second. Of the new faces, only one - The Wolf of Wall Street - posted impressive results with the rest attracting sales that ranged from mediocre to disastrous.

Topping the charts for the third straight weekend, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug won a slim victory with $29M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, boosting the cume to a healthy $189.5M. Off just 8% from last weekend, the Middle Earth saga grossed a hearty $48.9M over the five-day period from Christmas Day Wednesday to Sunday. Smaug continues to run 15% behind the pace of last year's film An Unexpected Journey at the same point in the release. IMAX screens have accounted for $26.2M of the cume on the new Bilbo flick (about $50M worldwide) and this weekend's share rose to 17% of the gross as fans continue to pay extra for the premium experience. A massive $99.7M overseas this weekend pushed the international tally to $424.8M and the global haul to $614M.

The Disney animated blockbuster Frozen enjoyed a huge 46% jump from last weekend and grossed $28.6M in its fifth round of nationwide play. With positive buzz and no major competition for kids, the PG-rated smash has now amassed a stellar $248.1M making it the studio's second biggest non-Pixar toon of all-time trailing just 1994's The Lion King. Breaking $300M domestic seems likely. Frozen was red hot overseas too with new openings helping the international weekend gross reach $50.5M for a $79M global weekend. New cumes are now $243.5M overseas and $492M worldwide with Brazil, Japan, and China still to open.

Dropping 25% from its opening weekend was the holiday season's top broad comedy Anchorman 2 with an estimated $20.2M (some studios did not report actuals because of holiday closures) pushing the cume to $83.7M for Paramount putting it a day away from surpassing the $84.1M total of its 2004 predecessor. Close behind was the all-star awards contender American Hustle with an estimated $19.6M, up 2% from its wide debut last week. Sony has banked $60M to date.

Fifth place went to the excesses of the finance world as Martin Scorsese's raunchy new film The Wolf of Wall Street delivered the best opening among the half-dozen new releases with an estimated $18.5M over three days and $34.3M across the five days since its Christmas Day launch on Wednesday. The three-day average was $7,296 from 2,537 locations - solid for an R-rated film running three hours long.

Earning strong but not sensational reviews, the director's fifth outing with Leonardo DiCaprio skewed incredibly old playing more like a Marty film than a Leo one. A whopping 90% of the crowd was over 25 and 54% were male. Paying audiences did not like what they got as the CinemaScore grade was a troubling C which was among the lowest of any film this holiday season. With a budget of about $100M, Wolf will try to have the kind of legs that older-skewing movies do and if it secures a Best Picture Oscar nomination a few weeks from now, that could help it stay afloat too.

The feel-good Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson pic Saving Mr. Banks surged 44% despite no increase in screens and grossed $13.5M. Averaging a solid $6,376, the Disney release has collected $37.3M thus far.

Fox's PG-rated film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty bowed to $12.8M from 2,909 locations for a mediocre $4,388 average. Total for the Ben Stiller project since its yuletide launch is $25.4M. Reviews were mixed and the CinemaScore was a B+. Demos were 52% female and 64% over 25.

Jumping 15% was the Katniss tentpole The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with $10.1M in its sixth weekend and $391M overall making it 2013's second biggest blockbuster after Iron Man 3 ($409M) which it may surpass before its run is through. The Lionsgate release has climbed up to number 18 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters.

Keanu Reeves delivered a bomb with his pricey period adventure 47 Ronin which started with a solid opening day on Wednesday but then quickly lost its audience. The weekend saw $9.9M while the five-day period brought in just $20.6M. With a budget estimated to be in the range of $150-175M, the Universal release never generated interest outside of a core subset of the male action crowd. Reviews were terrible but the CinemaScore grade was a decent B+. There was a heavy male skew (62%) while 53% were over 30. Overseas results are not much better with $22.3M total to date from 29 markets including Japan where it is now in its fourth frame.

Rounding out the top ten was Walking with Dinosaurs with $7.3M, up 3%, for a $20.9M total for Fox.

Rejected by critics and paying audiences alike was the Sylvester Stallone-Robert DeNiro boxing comedy Grudge Match which opened just outside the top ten to only $7M over the weekend from 2,838 locations for a wimpy $2,472 average. The PG-13 pic earned a B+ from audiences and had only $13.1M in box office over five days. Older men, as expected, made up the core crowd as 55% were male and 68% were over 25. Reviews were dreadful and with so many better options, ticketbuyers took a pass on this fight.

Two more films debuted nationwide but failed to crack the top ten posting weak grosses. The Idris Elba pic Mandela followed a prolonged one month run in platform release with an expansion into 975 theaters but grossed $2.2M for a lousy $2,298 average. Cume for The Weinstein Co. is $4.6M with a rocky road ahead.

The supposedly-retired pop singer Justin Bieber failed to make his fans come out to theaters with his new music doc Believe which debuted to $2M from 1,037 locations for a flimsy $1,936 average. The five-day tally since its Christmas launch was a measly $4.3M which is a fraction of the $30.3M that his 2011 film Never Say Never opened to. Believe had only one-third of the screens and was released by Open Road which does not have the marketing muscle of Paramount and its MTV sibling. But still, the new film did not generate any impressive turnout with its opening weekend down an alarming 93% from Bieber's last film.

The top ten films grossed $169.3M which was up 6% from last year when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey stayed at number one with $32.9M; and up 26% from 2011 when Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol was in the top spot with $29.4M.

Compared to three-day projections, The Wolf of Wall Street came in a little below my $22M forecast while The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was on target with my $13M prediction. 47 Ronin was close to my $9M projection and Grudge Match came in below my $13M forecast. Believe debuted well under my $6M prediction.

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Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones opens.

# Title Dec 27 - 29 Dec 20 - 22 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug $ 29,040,000 $ 31,505,278 -7.8 3,928 3 $ 7,393 $ 189,493,784 Warner Bros.
2 Frozen 28,596,319 19,642,107 45.6 3,335 6 8,575 248,117,795 Disney
3 Anchorman 2 20,150,000 26,776,000 -24.7 3,507 2 5,746 83,663,000 Paramount
4 American Hustle 19,550,000 19,106,933 2.3 2,507 3 7,798 60,035,000 Sony
5 The Wolf of Wall Street 18,510,000 2,537 1 7,296 34,302,000 Paramount
6 Saving Mr. Banks 13,453,533 9,344,381 44.0 2,110 3 6,376 37,276,150 Disney
7 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 12,765,508 2,909 1 4,388 25,360,468 Fox
8 Hunger Games: Catching Fire 10,061,479 8,764,479 14.8 2,315 6 4,346 390,985,322 Lionsgate
9 47 Ronin 9,910,310 2,689 1 3,686 20,612,530 Universal
10 Walking with Dinosaurs 7,276,172 7,091,938 2.6 3,243 2 2,244 20,944,478 Fox
Top 5 $ 115,846,319 $ 106,374,699 8.9
Top 10 169,313,321 135,380,449 25.1
Top 10 vs. 2012 169,313,321 159,104,000 6.4
Top 10 vs. 2011 169,313,321 134,488,475 25.9
Below the Top 10:
Grudge Match 7,015,000 2,838 1 2,472 13,140,000 Warner Bros.
A Madea Christmas 6,887,194 8,384,980 -17.9 1,788 3 3,852 43,206,270 Lionsgate
Mandela 2,240,745 29,231 975 5 2,298 4,550,213 Weinstein Co.
Believe 2,007,567 1,037 1 1,936 4,270,067 Open Road
Philomena 1,767,560 1,210,637 46.0 727 6 2,431 16,444,983 Weinstein Co.
Inside Llewyn Davis 1,248,958 1,081,364 15.5 161 4 7,758 4,619,673 CBS
Dhoom 3 1,068,303 3,423,508 -68.8 220 2 4,856 6,817,935 Yash Raj
Nebraska 800,000 580,000 37.9 250 7 3,200 5,774,000 Paramount
Her 650,000 260,382 149.6 47 2 13,830 1,541,785 Warner Bros.
Thor: The Dark World 636,073 1,341,763 -52.6 319 8 1,994 202,363,610 Disney
The Book Thief 614,094 753,408 -18.5 481 8 1,277 17,884,586 Fox
Gravity 520,000 431,497 20.5 175 13 2,971 254,587,288 Warner Bros.
Cloudy w/ Chance of Meatballs 2 515,000 296,419 73.7 303 14 1,700 116,598,000 Sony
August: Osage County 179,302 5 1 35,860 179,302 Weinstein Co.
Lone Survivor 90,872 2 1 45,436 153,839 Universal

Last Updated: December 30, 2013 at 10:10PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 6:40pm ET.

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