Box Office Results: Second Chapter of The Hobbit Scores $73.7 Million

The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

For the second year in a row, New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson had a movie atop the box office in the second weekend of December, which is probably no surprise since The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was the follow-up to last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the second installment of Jackson’s latest trilogy. Once again starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen, the second chapter brought back Orlando Bloom’s elf Legolas and introduced Evangeline Lilly as a female elf named Tauriel, but fans of Jackson and J.R.R. Tolkien did not flock to the movie as much as they have earlier installments.

After grossing $31.1 million on Friday, including $8.8 million in Thursday previews, “The Desolation of the Smaug” took in an estimated $73.7 million in its 3,903 domestic theaters. That’s compared to the $84.6 million that the original installment opened with last year setting a new December opening record, although “Smaug” is still among the top 5 openings for the month. Part of this lower number could be blamed on snowy conditions across most of the country that might have kept people indoors, and going by past installments, it’s likely to carry decent legs through the holidays, going by its “A” CinemaScore.

While “Smaug” did have a bigger opening than 2003′s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, that opened on a Wednesday and one has to take into account the ten-year inflation on movie tickets, as well as the higher premium prices for 3D and IMAX.

“Desolation of Smaug” continued IMAX’s solid holiday run, bringing in $9.2 million domestically on 344 IMAX screens as well as over $5 million internationally on 124 screens, setting a new December opening record for the company as IMAX accounted for $14.25 million worldwide.

Internationally, “The Desolation of Smaug” opened to $131.2 million on about 16,000 screens in 49 markets. That puts the film’s worldwide total at $205 million after just one weekend.

Dropping one spot to second place but holding fairly steady with a mere 30% drop-off, Disney’s animated musical Frozen added another $22.2 million in its second weekend to bring its domestic total to $164.4 million. Worldwide, the animated hit has brought in $266 million, with another $31.5 million added from 25 international territories this weekend.

Tyler Perry’s popular character Madea had her first misstep as Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, co-starring Tika Sumpter, Alicia Witt, Chad Michael Murray, Kathy Najimy and Larry the Cable Guy, had the lowest opening of any Madea movie with $16.2 million in 2,194 theaters or approximately $7,300 per site. This is compared to the $25 million plus opening of most of Madea’s previous installments, but that could be attributed to the seasonal release and the possibility that Perry’s primary audience of older African-American women may have been too busy holiday shopping to see his latest on opening weekend.

It was followed in fourth place by Katniss Everdeen’s further adventures in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate), which brought in $13.2 million over the weekend to bring its domestic total to $357 million. In addition, it added another $19.5 million from 83 overseas markets to bring its worldwide total to $740 million.

Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World took fifth place with $2.7 million in 2,264 theaters as its domestic total edged closer to $200 million. It’s fared much better internationally where the sequel has grossed $421.8 million to bring its global gross to $620 million.

Not unexpected, but Scott Cooper’s star-studded crime-thriler Out of the Furnace, starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson, took a massive 56% plunge in its second weekend to sixth place with $2.3 million and $9.5 million total.

The rest of the movies in the top 10 each made less than $2 million with Delivery Man (DreamWorks) taking seventh place, followed by Philomena (The Weinstein Company), The Book Thief (20th Century Fox) and Homefront (Open Road).

The Top 10 grossed an estimated $137 million, which was actually $10 million higher than the same weekend last year even though “The Desolation of Smaug” opened with $10 million less than last year’s “An Unexpected Journey.”

After receiving seven Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, David O. Russell’s latest movie, the period comedy American Hustle (Sony). platformed in six locations where it brought in $690 thousand, a huge per-theater average of $115 thousand. That’s a significantly higher average than Russell’s last two films, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, during their platform releases, and they went on to gross $93 million and $132 million, respectively. American Hustle will expand nationwide into about 2,500 theaters on Friday, December 20.

John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks (Disney), about the making of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins and starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti, also opened in limited release prior to its nationwide expansion on December 20. Opening in 15 locations, it brought in $421 thousand or about $28 thousand per location.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.

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