Box office report: 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' scorches 'Anchorman 2' opening with $31.5 million

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This just in: Ron Burgundy is no match for a fire-breathing dragon at the box office. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (CinemaScore: B) beat out The Hobbit sequel on Friday, but updated totals show the Will Ferrell-starrer trailing Peter Jackson’s fantasy pic for the three-day weekend.

In first place, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug fell about 60% and brought in an estimated $31.5 million from 3,903 screens in its second weekend in theaters — spot on with Grady Smith’s prediction. Its domestic take now stands at a healthy $127.5 million. But that total lags behind the first Hobbit film by a significant margin. In 2012, An Unexpected Journey dropped 56.4% in its second weekend, earning nearly $36.9 million and bumping its domestic total to $150 million. That film played in about 200 more theaters and had a stronger opening weekend.

Meanwhile, Paramount’s heavily marketed Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opened in second place with a weekend estimate of $26.8 million. The PG-13 rated sequel opened in 3,507 locations Wednesday and is expected to net about $40 million for its first five days, much lower than EW’s prediction. The first Anchorman opened in July 2004 to $28.4 million and went on to gross $85.3 million domestically.

Coming in third is Disney’s animated pic Frozen with $19.2 million, down only 15% from last weekend. The $150 million 3-D musical has been in theaters for four weekends and boasts a $191.6 million domestic total. Frozen opened this weekend in Mexico, Italy, Lebanon, Greece, South Africa, Finland, Hong Kong, and Venezuela, and will continue its worldwide expansion in the coming weeks, including a release in China at a date still to be determined. Its current global total is $344.2 million.

Director David O. Russell’s star-studded epic American Hustle (CinemaScore: B+) took in an estimated $19.1 million (meeting expectations) from 2,507 theaters, landing it in fourth place. The ’70s-set tale of con artists and strivers opened last weekend in limited release. Last year’s Best Picture-winner Argo opened to a similar $19.5 million weekend. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, which also starred Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, had a vastly different box office story last year, playing in fewer than 800 theaters for nine weeks before expanding wide closer to the Oscars. It would go on to gross $132 million domestically, making it the first Russell film to cross the $100 million mark. In addition to having the benefit of Russell’s recent successes, Sony’s American Hustle has the bonus selling points of stars Christian Bale and Amy Adams — both of whom are receiving raves for their performances.

Saving Mr. Banks (CinemaScore: A), another Disney property, snagged the fifth place spot in its first weekend playing to a wide audience with a slightly sub-par $9.3 million, bringing its worldwide total to $15.4 million. Audiences skewed female (57%), and 39% of attendees were under age 35. Another awards contender (for Best Picture and Best Actress for Emma Thompson’s portrayal of Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers), the glossy PG-13 rated pic will likely enjoy a healthy holiday run.

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $31.5 million
2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – $26.8 million
3. Frozen – $19.2 million
4. American Hustle – $19.1 million
5. Saving Mr. Banks – $9.3 million

Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs (CinemaScore: B) opened outside of the top five to an estimated $7.3 million from 3,231 theaters. With the combination of Frozen and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the family market was a bit too saturated to allow any box office leftovers for Fox’s 3-D dinosaur pic.

The action-thriller Dhoom 3 broke the record for a Bollywood opening in the U.S. with $3.3 million from 236 theaters. The Coen brothers’ awards contender Inside Llewyn Davis expanded into 148 theaters and took in about $1.1 million for an impressive $7,169 per theater average.

UPDATE: In the speciality box office world, Spike Jonze’s futuristic love story Her opened in six theaters Wednesday and brought in $258,000 across the weekend. Jonze’s film, starring Joaquin Phoenix, will open wide on Jan. 10. Feng Xiaogang’s Chinese comedy Personal Tailor made its U.S. debut in nine theaters and earned an estimated $104,000. Finally, Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian mystery The Past, starring The Artist’s Berenice Bejo, opened in three theaters to $30,900.


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