Peter Jackson’s second installment of his trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, was released by New Line Cinema and MGM onto 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D screens last night with special Thursday midnight screenings, and it has grossed $8.8 million from those showings.
That’s less than its predecessor, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, grossed in the same timeframe last year, possibly showing that there isn’t as much immediate interest in the sequel or as much of a rush to see it. The amount is higher than the midnight gross of 2003′s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which took in $8 million in midnights, although one has to take into account that ticket prices are significantly higher now, as well as the premiums charged for 3D and IMAX.
IMAX has informed us that 14% of that midnight amount was from the movie’s IMAX screenings, up from 12% of audiences going to midnight IMAX showings of “An Unexpected Journey.”
That doesn’t mean that “Desolation” couldn’t pick up more business on Friday and over the weekend to match or surpass the $84.6 million opening of “Unexpected Journey” or its $303 million domestic gross, but chances are that the movie is going to join many others this year that make most of their money internationally.