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Box Office Results: Hobbit and Frozen Vie for Top Spot Over Holidays

Source: Edward Douglas
December 29, 2013

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.

Movie theaters tend to be packed in the weekend between Christmas and New Year's Day, and this year was no exception, although the addition of five new movies on Christmas Day and the expansion of a prominent biopic did very little to keep moviegoers from flocking to movies that had already been playing in theaters as far as back as Thanksgiving. At least business was fairly spread out with five movies grossing more than $18 million each and the entry point into the Top 10 being in the $7 million range for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, the new movies just didn't stand a chance against the Top 4 returning movies.

Despite jockeying for a key position throughout the week, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was able to remain on top for its third weekend in a row with an estimated $29.8 million, down just 5% from its pre-Christmas weekend. So far, it's grossed $190.3 million to date domestically, which is roughly $30 million less than last year's "An Unexpected Journey" had made after its third weekend, making one think the second installment will fall short at least domestically from surpassing it.

Jackson's fantasy epic is still doing good for the IMAX Corp., who reported that the percent of people who chose to see the movie in IMAX jumped up to 17% from last week's 13%, giving it a 27% IMAX increase as IMAX reports a global weekend take of roughly $10 million on its way to $50 million.

Giving Jackson a serious run for the top spot was Walt Disney Animation Studios' popular musical adventure Frozen, which opened over Thanksgiving, setting 3-day and 5-day opening records, and since then, it's continued to steamroll over the box office as women and families and kids continue to make it a first choice. This weekend, it jumped back up to second place with a reported $28.9 million, up 47% from last weekend, putting it a million away from besting "The Hobbit" if for some reason Sunday has been underestimated. It's grossed $248.4 million since opening last month, Walt Disney Pictures' fifth movie of the year to cross the $200 million milestone, making it the highest-grossing movie since the animation studio's restructuring in 2007. It is also likely to surpass the domestic gross of Disney•Pixar's 2013 release Monsters University. Globally, Frozen has grossed $491.9 million so far, compared to the $743.6 million for Monsters University.

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, co-starring Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner and Kristen Wiig, held up well in its second weekend, dropping just 22% to third place with an estimated $20.1 million, bringing its total gross to $84.2 million. That's more than the original Anchorman made in its entire theatrical run and an amount the sequel scored in 12 days.

David O. Russell's Golden Globe-nominated American Hustle (Sony), starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner, has received many comparisons to the earlier movies of Martin Scorsese, and in the lucrative holiday weekend, it was able to just best Scorsese's latest movie with $19.5 million and hit the $60 million mark after just 10 days in nationwide release.

Martin Scorsese's new "comedy" The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, Matthew McConaughey and Margot Robbie, was the top new movie opening this week, launching on Christmas Day with $9.1 million, a close second place behind "The Hobbit," and after grossing another $6.6 million Thursday, it brought in $18.5 million over the three-day weekend. With a reported "C" CinemaScore, the edgy hard R-rated movie didn't connect with mainstream moviegoers the way it did with critics, which explains why it dropped down to fifth place by Friday and has to work on building up good will going into the New Year if it wants to be taken seriously as an Oscar contender.

On the other hand, John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. Banks (Disney), starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti, had a significant bump post-Christmas, taking sixth place with $14 million from 2,110 theaters, up 50% from its first weekend in wide release with a domestic box office take of $37.8 million.

Also opening on Christmas Day, Ben Stiller's take on James Thurber's short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, co-starring Adam Scott and Kristen Wigg, brought in $7.8 million its opening day, dropped to $4.8 million on Thursday, but then grossed $13 million over the weekend to take seventh place with $25.6 million since opening five days ago.

The next returning movie to see a big holiday bump was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate), which despite being in theaters for well over a month, held its ground at #8 with an additional $10.2 million to bring its total domestic gross to $391.1 million. That puts it about $18 million behind Marvel Studios' Iron Man 3, currently the #1 grossing movie of 2013 with $409 million and going by this weekend and the holiday week ahead, it could end up surpassing it.

With a reported budget of $175 million and having been delayed for well over a year, Universal Pictures' samurai fantasy adventure 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tadanobu Asano and Rinko Kikuchi, opened on Christmas Day with absolutely horrendous reviews, but it was able to bring in $7 million that opening day regardless. That amount was cut in half on Thursday and by Friday, it was clear that it would be ending up in ninth place for the weekend with less than $10 million over the three days and $21.4 million since opening on Wednesday. Universal Pictures will be taking a huge loss on this experiment into making a big budget Japanese samurai movie with fantasy elements, that's for sure.

Also opening on Christmas Day, the Robert De Niro-Sylvester Stallone boxing comedy Grudge Match (Warner Bros.), co-starring Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger, barely brought in $4 million its opening day, had a similar significant drop on Thursday, and barely picked up for the weekend, allowing it to only bring in $7.3 million over the three days and $13.4 million in its first five days. Seems like De Niro and Stallone's bad luck year in 2013 wasn't alleviated in time for Christmas with so many other choices.

Shockingly, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate) remained in the Top 10 despite Christmas already passed, pulling just ahead of Grudge Match, as well as the 3D animated Walking With Dinosaurs, with $7.4 million, which was enough to score its Top 10 placement.

Despite the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela a month back, the Weinstein Company's nationwide expansion of Justin Chadwick's biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, into 975 theaters didn't generate much interest among moviegoers compared to stronger fare. It only brought in $2.4 million in its opening weekend, taking its total to $4.7 million.

At least it fared better than the concert doc Justin Bieber's Believe (Open Road), which opened with a pitiful $1.2 million on Christmas Day in 1,037 theaters, followed by another million on Thursday and then just $2 million over the three-day weekend to wind up well outside the Top 10 at #14. Believe ended up grossing $4.7 million in its first five days - this compared to the $73 million domestic gross of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never three years ago after an opening weekend of $29.5 million. Ouch. (Of course, it never helps when your movie's star decides to jokingly announce his retirement on the day of his movie's release, but boy, is Justin Bieber going to have to do some growing up in 2014.)

Peter Berg's military drama Lone Survivor (Universal), starring Mark Wahlberg, was given a platform run in New York and L.A. to qualify it for Oscars before its January 10, 2014 national release, and it brought in $92.5 thousand or $46.2 thousand per theater.

Similarly, John Wells' adaptation of Tracy Letts' Pulitzer-prize-winning play August: Osage County (The Weinstein Company), starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor and more, opened in five theaters on Friday for awards eligibility where it grossed $179 thousand or $36 thousand per theater as it plans its own nationwide expansion on January 10.

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







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