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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” had a solid debut this weekend, though not quite strong enough to take the top slot away from “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” “American Hustle” also got off to a great start, while “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Walking with Dinosaurs” disappointed.

Overall, though, it was a good weekend at the box office. The top 12 films earned $137.3 million, which is up 37 percent from the same weekend last year. Unless all five Christmas Day releases bomb (not likely, with “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” among them), the 2013 box office is all but guaranteed to top last year’s $10.84 billion record. Thank goodness folks keep going out to the movies.

In its second weekend in theaters, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” added an estimated $31.4 million to the tally. It dropped 57 percent from last weekend, which is the exact same number as the first Hobbit’s drop in its second weekend. So far, “Smaug” has earned $127.5 million, which is 15 percent less than the first movie’s pace.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” opened with $26.8 million at 3,507 theaters this weekend. That’s less than the first “Anchorman’s” $28.4 million debut, although we have to take into account that “Anchorman 2” burned off some demand with a Wednesday start. Also, opening weekends in December are historically lower than those in July, when the first movie opened.

Anchorman 2“Anchorman 2’s” opening was on par with Paramount’s expectations, although with the relentless marketing and premieres around the globe, it seems like it should have been a bit higher. I’m guessing folks will go out to see it in the next week or two. 

In its fourth weekend, Disney Animation’s “Frozen” eased 15 percent to $19.5 million, which is more than newcomers “Saving Mr. Banks” and “Walking with Dinosaurs” earned combined. “Frozen” has now grossed $191.6, and is definitely the family movie to see right now (I loved it!).

After a week in limited release, David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” expanded to 2,507 locations and earned an impressive $19.1 million. In comparison, Russell’s The Fighter took in $12.1 million when it expanded on the same weekend in 2010. “Hustle” is already racking up plenty of awards nominations and wins.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is a puzzler, scoring only $9.3 million from 2,110 locations. That’s worse than “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which opened the same weekend in 2007 with $9.7 million, and also starred Tom Hanks as a historical figure. I’m guessing this film will garner some buzz in the coming weeks. 

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has now earned $371.8 million, which ranks second in 2013 ahead of “Despicable Me 2” ($367.5 million). The blockbuster sequel remains on pace to earn over $400 million by the end of its run.

In eighth place, “Walking with Dinosaurs” opened to a very poor $7.3 million. That’s less than half of “Yogi Bear’s” debut at the same time in 2010. I saw “Dinosaurs” this weekend, and it can’t decide if it’s a DisneyNature film or a cute family flick.

At just 236 locations, “Dhoom 3” set a new Bollywood record with $3.3 million, and Spike Jonze’s “Her” opened at six theaters this weekend, earning a solid $258,000. That translates to an average of $43,000 per theater, and the sci-fi romance expands to 47 theaters on Christmas Day, with a nationwide release on Jan. 10.

The Global Box Office 

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” dominated the overseas box office (again) this weekend. The movie fell 43 percent to $96 million, and has so far earned $276.3 million. According to Warner Bros., that’s on par with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” across the same territories.

“Smaug’s” only major new market was Russia, where it set a Warner Bros. opening weekend record with $18.8 million. The movie expands to Australia on Thursday, then moves on to China and Japan in February.

“Frozen” also looks to be a huge hit overseas. Disney’s sweet animated film added $35.1 million this weekend for a new total of $152.6 million. Those are good numbers for only playing in 61 percent of the international marketplace. It had strong starts in Mexico ($5.5 million) and Italy ($2.9 million), both of which were ahead of the similar family movie “Tangled.”

“Walking with Dinosaurs” opened to $13.6 million from 40 foreign markets. Its top territory was the U.K., where it brought in a decent $1.6 million.

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” debuted to $13.4 million in six foreign markets. In comparison, the original “Anchorman” only made $5.3 million in its entire international run. The movie had a strong $7.4 million five-day start in the U.K., and also did well in Australia, with $5.2 million.

“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” added $11 million for a new total of $393.6 million. It reaches its final foreign market – Japan – next Saturday.

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