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Box office preview: Will 'Frozen' leave 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' in the cold?

Well, it’s time to kick off a whole new year of box-office coverage! And since it’s January, you know what that means — you’ll be seeing a lot of horror movies (and expanding Oscar contenders). This weekend, only one new wide release screams its way into theaters: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. If it weren’t for snowy conditions — both in real life and on screen — it would have a very clear shot at No. 1, but it will have to work hard to overcome Frozen, which has quickly evolved into a box-office behemoth. Here’s how the weekend might play out:

1. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones – $19 million
The horror franchise cranked out four “found footage” films in four years, and all of them were massive successes thanks to their micro-budgets. But Paranormal Activity 4 earned a series low $53 million in October 2012 (down from PA3‘s $104 million haul), and Paramount wisely kept itself from killing its mega-profitable franchise by choosing to not release a new installment in October 2013. Instead, the studio is pushing this Latino-oriented spinoff in January in hopes of reaching the same crowd that has led demonic possession movies like The Devil Inside to huge grosses. The Marked Ones probably can’t be expected to match PA4‘ $29 million debut, but the Paranormal series has been very well-received on the whole, and it certainly has a loyal fanbase. If not for a snow storm that has much of the Northeast frozen over, The Marked Ones could score a debut in the mid-twenties. For now, though, I’m going with a $19 million debut. Not bad considering it cost Paramount just $5 million! READ FULL STORY

China's box office soared 27 percent in 2013

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The Chinese box office continued its remarkable evolution in 2013 — and it thrived thanks to Chinese-made pictures, not just Hollywood films. According to Chinese market researcher Ent Group, the country’s box office revenues reached $3.6 billion last year, up 27 percent from 2012’s $2.7 billion mark. China, which passed Japan in 2012 to become the second-largest movie market in the world, is now poised to surpass the U.S. by 2020 as the most lucrative film market on Earth.

Domestically produced pictures made up the majority of China’s revenues, accounting for approximately 59 percent of grosses. Action comedy Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons was the top-performing film of the year, grossing $207 million total. Only three Hollywood films finished in the Top 10: Iron Man 3 ($121 million), Pacific Rim ($115 million), and Gravity ($73 milion). Notably, all three spectacles made a special point of incorporating Chinese elements into their plots — whether by shooting additional action scenes in China, letting a Chinese fighter-robot punch a slimy kaiju, or by having Sandra Bullock reach a Chinese space station.
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Box office to hit all-time high in 2013

2013 was the year when all those big, expensive, flashy  flops dragged down the movie business, right?

Not quite. Despite all the worry over write-down-inducing failures like The Lone Ranger and 47 Ronin, 2013 was actually another boom year at the box office. In fact, it’s about to go in the record books as Hollywood’s all-time best: With two days left til the New Year, we’re just a few million shy of 2012’s record-setting $10.837 billion haul.  READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hobbit' beats 'Frozen' with $29.9 million; '47 Ronin' bombs with $9.9 million

In a remarkably tight race, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug held onto its gold at the box office this weekend, earning $29.9 million over the three-day frame and taking the top spot. The fantasy epic’s domestic total is now $190.3 million after three weeks, a robust number that still trails last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which had already earned $221.6 million at the 17-day mark. Peter Jackson’s earlier Tolkien epic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, had made a princely $290.4 million by its third weekend in 2003, headed toward a final gross of $377.8 in the states and $1.119 billion worldwide. Smaug looks likely to end up below Unexpected Journey‘s total haul of $303 million, whereas each of the Lord of the Rings films managed to outgross its predecessor. The Hobbit: There and Back Again, the trilogy’s final film, is slated for release on Dec. 17, 2014.

The prize for Most Improved this week goes to Frozen, which jumped a remarkable 46.9 percent in its sixth weekend — despite actually playing at 205 fewer theaters. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Frozen' ices 'Hobbit' and 'Wall Street' on Friday

Reclaiming the top spot in its sixth weekend, Frozen made an estimated $10.3 million on Friday — enough to snag the top spot during a hectic post-holiday frame that saw five new wide releases competing at the box office. Disney’s animated fairy tale has made a total of $229.8 million so far and has a shot at holding the crown for the weekend, although it’ll have stiff competition from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The fantasy sequel earned an estimated $10.1 million on Friday, making it the second-highest grosser that day and bringing its total to $170.6 million. The Hobbit is playing on 3,928 screens compared to Frozen‘s 3,335.

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Box office preview: Can 'Wall Street' wolf down 'The Hobbit'?

With holiday lights twinkling and the eggnog flowing, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street were neck and neck at the Christmas Day box office. In the end, Smaug had more presents under the tree, firing up $9.3 million to Wolf‘s $9.15 million. But could Leonardo DiCaprio’s moral-free banker still come out on top this weekend? READ FULL STORY

Christmas box office report: 'The Hobbit' beats out 'Wolf of Wall Street' in a tight race

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In one way, the story remains the same: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continued its winning streak at the box office Christmas Day, snagging a healthy $9.3 million in receipts.

But while Martin Scorsese’s big, bold black comedy Wolf of Wall Street — which opened Wednesday — didn’t manage to vanquish Peter Jackson’s epic sequel, it came pretty darn close; Wolf‘s debut totaled $9.15 million. What’s more, Wolf managed this feat while appearing on 3,100 fewer screens than The Hobbit (3,700 vs. 6,800) and in 1,391 fewer theaters (2,537 vs. 3,928) — giving it the day’s highest average receipts per showing, which bodes well for the picture’s future. (Though as a commenter points out, Wolf‘s surprisingly low “C” CinemaScore could indicate trouble ahead.)

The Hobbit and The Wolf were followed by Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which added $8.1 million to its gross — making the film’s box office to date $56.7 million, or just a few million more than EW thought it might earn over a five-day period. (Anchorman 2‘s been out since Dec. 15.) Two more Oscar hopefuls — Ben Stiller’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty retread, which opened Wednesday (CinemaScore: B+), and David O. Russell’s hair-raising American Hustle — rounded out the top five, earning $7.8 million and $7.4 million respectively.

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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.

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'Anchorman 2' barely beats 'The Hobbit' sequel with $8.7 million on Friday: Box office update

Ron Burgundy won out by a mustache hair over those pesky hobbits at the box office Friday. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues brought in $8.7 million, while The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned an estimated $8.6 million. In the words of Burgundy himself, “don’t act like you’re not impressed.” Still, this unexpectedly close Friday means that the weekend could belong to either film.

Anchorman 2 opened strong on Wednesday, and initial predictions had the PG-13 comedy’s weekend grosses in the $40 million range. That seems a bit high now that we’ve seen Friday results. Paramount’s $50 million comedy boasts a three-day domestic total of $21.9 million. Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ Hobbit sequel has now earned an estimated $104.7 million domestically in its second week in theaters and will likely cross the $300 million mark worldwide. The first film had earned more than $123.2 million at this point last year and went on to gross over $300 million domestically.

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Box office preview: Is 'Anchorman 2' destined for great news?

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. READ FULL STORY

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