As we discuss the estimates for Friday and eventually the weekend, please note that late December releases tend to have the strongest legs of the year. For reasons I elaborated on last month, the pre-Christmas December weekend is (in my opinion) the very best weekend on which to open your film. So the usual math rules won’t apply for a couple weeks.
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The top new release on Friday was Paramount’s Anchorman 2:The Legend Continues, which earned $8.7 million. For those who care about rank, it will probably end up second behind the second Hobbit film, but that’s arbitrary for now. The $50 million Will Farrell sequel has thus far earned $21.92m since debuting on Wednesday and should earn over/under $30m for the weekend giving it a $43m five-day finish. It’s a solid total, although one that shows the somewhat entrenched nature of the Ron Burgundy fan base. Considering the first Anchorman opened with $29m back in 2004, one might have expected a bigger upswing if only due to inflation. But fortunately this is late December we’re talking about, so Anchorman 2 should have no problem crossing $100m domestic and $150m isn’t completely out of the question for the moment.
20th Century Fox has a genuine miss on its hands with Walking With Dinosaurs. The $85 million animated film earned just $2.13m on its first day, with little hope that it will grow much over the holiday. The reviews are terrible and Frozen just can’t be stopped. Fox is only on the hook for distribution as the film was independently financed, but someone somewhere is on the hook for that budget. Of course, I don’t say to play “doom-sayer” and watch it open with $6m and end up with $60m ala Mouse Hunt back in 1997 on this very weekend. But Gore Verbinski’s Mouse Hunt is one of the greatest movies ever made (slight exaggeration), so let’s just hope for the best and see how this plays out. And don’t discount Fox’s international muscle. And speaking of Frozen, the Disney toon Frozen earned another $5.17m for a new cume of $177m. It has passed Tarzan ($171m) and should soon pass Wreck It Ralph ($189m) with Tangled‘s $200m milestone in its sight
Sony's American Hustle expanded into wide and scored big, earning $6.3 million on its first day for a likely over/under $20m weekend. The David O’Russell caper film was sold on pure combined star power, with its media friendly stars (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner) making the rounds and strong reviews closing the sale. This is a big win for the would-be Oscar contender and immediately puts it near the top of the front runners chart. It’s somewhat insane that we’ve reached the point where David O’Russell is a bonofide populist filmmaker, but The Fighter, The Silver Linings Playbook, and now American Hustle show him as someone who can mix artier sensibilities with old-school star power in a commercially pleasing package.
Also expanding wide after a limited debut last week is Saving Mr. Banks from Disney. The fictionalized “making of Mary Poppins” picture earned $2.96m on its first day, setting itself up for an over/under $10m weekend. If this weren’t late December, the film would be in trouble. But the holiday rush means that the Emma Thompson/Tom Hanks film could well earn $10m next weekend and another $10m over New Years, ending the year with around $50m with more to come if Oscar smiles. This one will play older, so the interested parties won’t necessarily rush out on opening weekend. So yeah, this could easily be one of those films that opens with under $10m but crawls its way to over/under $100m over the course of the next three months.
The big limited release debut was Spike Jonze’s Her. The Warner Bros. release kicked off its weekend with $72,000 on six screens after opening on Wednesday. The film has earned $170,000 thus far. The picture should be looking at an over/under $230k weekend for an over/under $40k per-screen average. That’s not boffo, but Her was never going to be a mega blockbuster, so much will depend on how much Oscar love it can snag in next month’s nominations. Also debuting in limited is Dhoom 3, which scored the biggest single-day gross for a Bollywood film ever with $1.075 million on 236 screens.
Once again topping the weekend box office is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The Warner Bros. release earned $8.6 million on its second Friday. That’s down 72%, which shockingly is less than the 73% that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey dropped on its $10m second Friday. So, as we saw last weekend, the film is pulling in slightly smaller numbers but is less front loaded. The film crossed $100m domestic yesterday ($104m) and should finish the weekend with $31m for a 10-day cume of $145m as it possibly crosses the $300m mark worldwide. Inside Lewlyn Davis expanded to 148 screens and earned $303,000. It should hopefully end up at around $1 million for the weekend.
We’ll discuss more holdover news and the final weekend estimates tomorrow. Until then, take care.
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