Facing a slew of no less than 5 new wide releases, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey easily emerged victorious once again at the North American box office. Only Jack Reacher and This is 40 performed ok (although somewhat disappointing), the rest of the new entries either bombed or underperformed big time.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey grossed an estimated $36.9 million over the last weekend before Christmas. That gets the film up to $157 million after 11 days in theaters which is a lot less than what The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers had at the same point ($185.2 million), nevermind Return of the King ($208 million). The only film below this new one is Fellowship of the Ring with $143.7 million. Unfortunately at the rate this is going, it won’t end up higher than either of those.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how much money can The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey hope to collect by the end of its run? Well based on the gross pattern of another Peter Jackson film, King Kong‘s (also opened on the 14th of December, only it was in 2005), a final take of about $300 million is not outside the realm of possibility just yet. See, King Kong (which dropped similarly in its 2nd weekend) had $99.7 million after 11 days, ending up with $218 million. If An Unexpected Journey continues to follow King Kong, then it would eventually finish with $343.2 million, but I find that scenario extremely unlikely. No, The Hobbit looks more like a $290-300 million grosser. Either way it’s by no means a box office disaster or whatnot, just disappointing that after 9 years and with the help of 3D and IMAX, this return to Tolkien’s universe could not bring more people in theaters.
In 2nd place we had Tom Cruise in his action flick Jack Reacher. This had an opening of $15.6 million or about half what Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol did a year ago (on its wide release) around the same time. Like I said in the intro, it’s not bad, just ok. With good word of mouth Jack Reacher might eventually make its way to $100 million, a fine total for a $60 million film.
This is 40, Judd Apatow’s latest R-rated comedy starring, well, just about everyone you’ve seen in his previous film, opened with $12 million in 3rd place. For Judd Apatow, this is by far the worst opening of his directorial career, but on the other hand none of the others debuted on the weekend before Christmas. Because of that This is 40 should ultimately pass Funny People ($51.8 million) on its way to $70-80 million.
Rise of the Guardians pulled off the smallest drop in the top 10, down just 17.4% with $5.9 million. So far the animation has $79.7 million.
Lincoln rounds out the top 5 with $5.5 million for a total of $116.6 million while new wide entry The Guilt Trip underperformed in 6th with $5.3 million and a total of $7.4 million (opened on Wednesday).
3D re-release Monsters Inc. made only $4.7 million in 7th. That’s a flatout bomb compared to past Disney re-issues (The Lion King 3D did $94.2 million little over a year ago). So will they stop with the 3D re-releases or continue to milk some more classics until they’ve squeezed the last drop? That’s a question we’ll find the answer for next year.
Among the average there was at least one standout performer last weekend, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. In just 5 theaters this made $0.6 million after 5 days. That gave the film an amazing per theater average of $82000 over the weekend. The thriller expands into more than 2500 theaters next year in the middle of January.
Today (December 25th) Django Unchained opens, so expect some real competition for The Hobbit next weekend, it might even lose the top spot.