And so the holiday glut begins! Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is set to dominate the box office this weekend, as American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks get major expansions, and Walking With Dinosaurs stomps into theaters as well. Here’s how the Top 5 may look by Sunday night:
1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – $41 million
Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy sequel has gotten a massive media push — one that some industry folks have called too pervasive given the considerable hype for the film. But Paramount’s marketing for the $50 million comedy has demonstrated one thing: confidence. The original Anchorman earned $85.3 million in 2004 and became wildly successful on the home market. Over its first five days, Anchorman 2 should pull in at least half of its predecessor’s gross. The film, which also stars Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, and Kristen Wiig, earned $8.1 million on Wednesday, which theoretically sets it up for about $45 million over five days. But with kids out of school and workers taking off for Christmas break, I’m thinking it enjoys a larger-than-expected boost. Anchorman 2 may earn about $54 million over the five-day frame — $41 million of which could come in between Friday and Sunday.
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $31 million
Last week’s champ will likely fall by about 60 percent in its second weekend — a standard decline for a fantasy sequel — giving it $126 million after ten days, which would put it firmly behind its predecessor’s $150-million gross at the same point in its run.
3. American Hustle – $19 million
David O. Russell’s 1970s romp dazzled in limited release last weekend, grossing $740,000 from only six theaters. This time around, Sony’s $40 million film is expanding into 2,507 locations, and given the combined star power of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence, it’s destined to do solid business. Great reviews and ample awards buzz will draw adult audiences, and the film’s groovy style will draw in film buffs — as will the cachet of director Russell, who has built his clout recently with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. American Hustle may score $19 million over the weekend.
4. Frozen – $16.5 million
Another drop of about 25-30 percent will give Disney’s princess tale a $16.5 million weekend, and a fantastic $188 million total. Frozen still appears to be on track for a finish above $250 million.
5. Saving Mr. Banks – $11.5 million
Hey, another Disney film — and this one is about Walt Disney himself. (Or at least the Walt Disney that Disney wants you to remember.) Saving Mr. Banks stars Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Disney, the famous studio head determined to bring her tale to the screen. Fortunately for Saving Mr. Banks, which cost $15 million, Mary Poppins still holds major nostalgia appeal for adult audiences. It’s on that nanny’s appeal — and the star power of Hanks/Thompson — that the film may earn $12 million this weekend from 2,110 theaters.
Walking with Dinosaurs, Fox’s prehistoric animation opening in 3,231 theaeters, seems destined to open outside the Top 5, and it will likely struggle to break double digits for the week.