We had five new nationwide releases on Christmas Day this year – that’s a Wednesday – but by the weekend, audiences had turned their attention back to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Frozen.”
Still, overall viewing was strong on the last weekend of 2013: the Top 12 earned $185.8 million, up 13 percent from the same frame in 2012.
The second installment of “The Hobbit” franchise took first place for the third-straight weekend, paralleling fellow Warner Bros. release, “Gravity.” Bilbo and friends added $29.9 million, which is off seven percent from the first Hobbit on the same weekend last year. That dark dragon Smaug has now earned more than $190 million, remaining on pace for a final tally north of $250 million.
Disney Animation’s “Frozen” continues to exceed expectations, increasing 47 percent to $28.8 million. For fifth weekends, that ranks third for all-time, behind “Avatar” ($42.8 million) and “Titanic” ($30 million). The movie is getting great buzz via word of mouth, as well as the fact that there aren’t many other family movies out this holiday. “Saving Mr. Banks” isn’t really a family movie per se, and “Walking With Dinosaurs” just isn’t a great film in general.
Among 2013 releases, “Frozen” now ranks seventh with $248.4 million, and will likely close with more than $300 million.
“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” took third place with $20.2 million. Through 12 days, the comedy sequel has earned $83.7 million and will likely pass the first movie’s $85.3 million total this week.
David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” held on to fourth place with an estimated $19.6 million. So far, the star-studded 70s con caper has earned $60 million. It’s getting some good play on the awards circuit, so will likely have no problem getting upwards of $100 million.
Among the Christmas Day releases, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” led the pack with $18.5 million (scoring a five-day total of $34.3 million). That’s noticeably lower than 2012’s “Django Unchained” ($30.1 million), which was also a long, controversial film from a popular director (Quentin Tarantino) and also featured Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Wolf’s” audience was 54 percent male, with 90 percent 25 years of age or older (which is good; the film is just shy of an NC-17 rating). The buzz might die down, although the film’s borderline pornographic scenes could boost interest, sending numbers upwards of $100 million before the end of its run.
After a slow start last weekend, “Saving Mr. Banks” improved 50 percent this week to $14 million. Through 10 days, Banks has earned a decent $37.8 million.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” opened in seventh place with $13 million ($25.6 million over five days). For director and star Ben Stiller, that’s way better than family movies like “Night at the Museum” and the “Meet the Parents” sequels, though worse than recent comedy “Tower Heist” ($24 million). Mitty’s audience was 52 percent female, and 64 percent were over the age of 25.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” has now earned $391.1 million, and appears to be on track to top “Iron Man 3” ($409 million) and the original “Hunger Games” ($408 million).
A handful of new releases bombed over the weekend, including Universal’s long-delayed mega-budget samurai movie “47 Ronin,” which earned just $9.9 million ($20.6 million over five days). “Ronin” isn’t doing well overseas either, and Universal is expected to lose a ton of money on this film (a reported $175 million). But Universal has done well with hits like “Despicable Me 2” and “Fast & Furious 6.”
“Grudge Match” — Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone’s boxing comedy — took in just $7.3 million ($13.4 million over five days), which caps a rough year for the two veteran stars. The movie had some funny moments, but is lukewarm compared to their original box flicks “Rocky” and “Raging Bull.”
Pop star Justin Bieber was back in theaters this weekend with “Believe,” the follow-up to the massively successful 2011 documentary “Never Say Never.” Unfortunately, Bieber’s fans didn’t show up this time, and the movie debuted in 14th place with an abysmal $2 million ($4.3 million over five days). Maybe it IS time for the youngster to retire — at least from this phase of his career.
In comparison, “Never Say Never” opened to $28.8 million. While this opening does prove that Bieber’s fans are less engaged now than they were three years ago, the movie had virtually zero marketing.
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” expanded to 975 locations and took 13th place with $2.4 million. Considering how aggressively The Weinstein Company has marketed it, that’s not a majorly good debut. Unless it lands some surprise Oscar nominations, the biopic will likely fizzle out in theaters.
At five locations, “August: Osage County” opened to $179,500 ($35,900 average). Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg’s “Lone Survivor” debuted to $92,500 in just two theaters ($155,400 five-day). Both titles will expand nationwide in January.
Box Office Global Roundup
On its third weekend in theaters, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” added $98.3 million overseas. Its only new market was Australia, where it debuted to a strong $12.8 million (down six percent from the first Hobbit). To date, the film has earned $423.8 million; according to Warner Bros., which is on par with the first movie across the same territories. “Smaug” will wrap up its run in existing markets before reaching China and Japan in late February.
“Frozen” earned $50.5 million, making this its strongest weekend yet at the foreign box office. It opened to a solid $5.8 million in Australia, and still has Brazil, Japan and China on the way. To date, “Frozen” has earned $243.5 million overseas, and will pass $500 million worldwide on Monday.
Coinciding with its domestic debut, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” opened to $27.2 million in 39 overseas markets. Its top market was Italy ($5 million), though it was also solid in the U.K. ($3.8 million), Australia ($3.1 million), Spain ($3.1 million), Mexico ($2.5 million) and Brazil ($2.2 million).
“47 Ronin” added $13.8 million this weekend for a new total of $22.3 million. It opened in first place in a handful of smaller Asian markets, but only managed a fifth place debut in the U.K. ($2.3 million).
“Walking with Dinosaurs” grossed $12.3 million this weekend, most of which was from holdover markets. To date, the CGI dinosaur movie has banked $33.4 million.