Box-Office Oracle: ‘The Hobbit’ Takes on ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Django Unchained’

Weekend Box-Office Predictions

Current Streak: 2 Straight Weekends #1 Predicted Correctly
Threat Level to Streak Being Broken: 90 percent or so? Every time I attempt one of these coin flip predictions they go horribly awry.
Reason: There are so many questions surrounding this weekend. Is the older dollar going to take it with Les Miserables? Or will the kids support The Hobbit and Django Unchained? Do those two titles hurt each other’s chances? Can a nearly three-hour musical top a less than two-hour musical (Mamma Mia) at the box office? Let’s break it down!

Les MiserablesLes Miserables exploded onto the scene on Tuesday and hasn’t looked back. The film put up a respectable $18 million dollar Christmas Day and followed it up with a sturdy $12 million on Wednesday, a day that is traditionally soft coming off of the holiday. The random question for this segment is will it matter with The Academy? The film is a certain Best Picture nominee, but could a string of box-office wins make it a “buzzier” title? We’ll have to find out together, though I welcome your learned opinions on the matter.

Moving on, I’m barely going with Les Miserables at #1 this weekend with $27.8 million. It has already cleared $60 million worldwide and received an “A” Cinemascore, which is something only one of its main rivals can claim. Speaking of …

The Hobbit: An Expected Journey has passed $520 million worldwide, but it should be worried about that 56.3 percent drop, a number well over 20 percent worse than any of the Lord of the Rings films. In fact, I’d say the only reason The Hobbit has a credible chance at the weekend crown is that Les Miserables is also crushingly long, audiences are getting their pick of three-hour time commitments this weekend, especially once you count their commute and trailers.

My prediction on The Hobbit? Well, it’s only a fraction lower than Les Mis at $27.7 million. There couldn’t possibly be a tie… could there?

Django Unchained is the outlier for Cinemascore, only garnering an “A-” which we’ve learned is around a B- back in the real world. The reason for the lower grade has to be the gnarly content, though it’s worth noting for box-office purposes that Inglourious Basterds received the same “A-“.

Django put up a $15 million Tuesday, taking second place in the process, before settling at $10 million on Wednesday. 2007 is the last time Christmas fell on a Tuesday, and the box office jumped up 10 percent versus the prior weekend, with the broad actioner National Treasure: Book of Secrets taking the crown. Still, there weren’t any huge new releases, and Oscar films were still trickling in (No Country for Old Men was still under 1,000 theaters) so I’m not sure how much to divine from that weekend. All things considered, I’m going with $24.1 million for Django, coming in #3.

As for the comedies, it’s either a prime example of a dumping ground or a prime example of a too crowded market place, as This is 40, The Guilt Trip and Parental Guidance are all struggling to gain a foothold. If you added all three together they would have gotten second place on Tuesday and slid to fourth place on Wednesday, but my guess is Fox, Universal and Paramount don’t have that arrangement.

The final news of the weekend is Silver Linings Playbook gaining an additional 400 theaters. This should allow it to grab a third week (non-consecutive) in the top ten.

Enough pontification, how say you? You’ve got a spirited number of new releases to consider, as well as a legit horse race for the gold medal. The final factor could be how all this plays for the Oscar race and just when Silver Linings will be making its final push. Predictions away!

SIDE NOTE: Some of the theater numbers below are estimates. We’ll have the actual counts in Sunday’s wrap-up article.

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