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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

Box office report: 'The Hobbit' captures $73.6 million; Tyler Perry's latest 'Madea' film struggles

Bilbo Baggins went after treasure this weekend, and he found a lot of it — just not quite as much as he did last year. Peter Jackson’s latest Middle-earth adventure The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned $73.6 million in its opening weekend, marking a 13 percent drop from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘s $84.6 million bow in December 2012.

Smaug notched the fourth-best December opening weekend ever, after An Unexpected Journey, I Am Legend ($77.2 million), and Avatar ($77 million), and although it undercut its predecessor’s debut, Warner Bros., who co-financed the film with MGM for about $225 million, can’t be too disappointed with the result. The first Hobbit film finished with $303 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide. Even if Smaug can’t match those figures (if it plays like Journey, it’s headed for $263 million domestically), it will be a hugely profitable venture for the studio.
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Box office update: 'The Hobbit' pulls in solid $31.1 million on Friday

Peter Jackson’s latest journey to Middle-Earth may be less golden than originally expected. On its first day at the box office, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug got off to a weaker start than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey did last year, though it still earned more than enough to top the chart. Smaug grossed $31.1 million, down 17 percent from the $37.1 million Friday that An Unexpected Journey managed, and it’s headed for a debut weekend of about $72 million. That would mark a substantial drop from its predecessor’s $84.6 million bow, but Smaug‘s more positive critical reception might indicate box office endurance in the weeks to come.

In second place, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas unwrapped a shockingly low $5.7 million, putting the film on pace for a franchise-worst $15 million debut. Lionsgate’s $25 million sequel was tracking ahead of 2012′s Madea’s Witness Protection, which opened to $25.1 million, so it is rather befuddling that the comedy opened so poorly on Friday. Perhaps audiences are just tiring of the gun-packing granny. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: Will 'The Hobbit' desolate the competition?

Last weekend, the box office was as Frozen as the weather. Disney’s animated musical climbed past Catching Fire to reach the number one spot, but dragon’s breath will melt its throne when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug arrives in theaters — and don’t count out Tyler Perry’s latest Madea movie, either. Overall, this weekend should be a pretty big frame for the four movies on top of the box office. Here’s how it might shake out:

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $77 million
Last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey pulled in a strong $84.6 million on opening weekend en route to a $303 million domestic finish and $1 billion worldwide. The film was received moderately well, but audiences weren’t in love with the candy-coated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous Lord of the Rings prequel. Still, fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth adventures are pretty committed at this point (the four films have earned over $3.9 billion worldwide), and although Smaug may open a shade below its predecessor, it’s still headed for a massive opening. Warner Bros., which co-financed the film with MGM for a reported $225 million, has smartly emphasized Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom in marketing materials in order to differentiate it from the first film, which mainly focused on bearded dwarves and Martin Freeman’s titular character. Out in 3,903 theaters, Expect Smaug to drum up about $75-80 million this weekend. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Frozen' rises to No. 1 with $31.6 million, leaves no heat for 'Out of the Furnace'

The first weekend in December is a notoriously weak one at the box office, and, true to form, most movies faced harsh declines this weekend after the record-breaking Thanksgiving frame. But Disney’s animated musical Frozen managed to score a not-so-severe 53 percent fall to $31.6 million this weekend, which sent it past Catching Fire and straight into the No. 1 spot on the chart.

Frozen has earned $134.3 million after 12 days in wide release, 39 percent more than 2010′s Tangled, which had earned $96.6 million at the same point in its run. The film will match its $150 million budget by this time next week, and if it maintains its current pace (which seems likely given its “A+” CinemaScore), Frozen could be headed for a finish of about $280 million. The film’s box office success is sending its soundtrack into the upper echelons of the music charts. The soundtrack debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 last week, and it’s risen all the way to No. 4 on the iTunes chart as well. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Catching Fire' tops Friday with $7.7 million, but 'Frozen' may take the weekend

Even on a relatively quiet day at the box office, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is still red-hot. After earning a record-breaking gross over the Thanksgiving frame, the sequel topped the chart yesterday, its third Friday, with $7.7 million. That sets the blockbuster up for a $27 million gross and about $337 million total through Sunday.

In second place, Disney’s animated musical Frozen grossed $6.8 million on its second Friday in wide release. While that number is slightly below expectations (I predicted a $34 million gross this weekend), family-friendly matinee showtimes on Saturday and Sunday should help Frozen hold up quite nicely over the rest of the frame. The film appears headed for a $28-29 million gross, which would let it surpass Catching Fire for the number one spot on the chart. Find out tomorrow where it lands. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Frozen' ready to cool down 'Catching Fire'

After a record-breaking Thanksgiving frame, the box office heads into the proverbial turkey-coma that is the first week of December. Only one new release, Out of the Furnace, is hitting theaters, leaving Frozen and Catching Fire to duke it out for the top spot. Which will win? Here’s how the chart may look this weekend:

1. Frozen – $34 million
Family films thrive over the Thanksgiving holiday — so much so that they’re destined to plummet in the following frame. Still, Frozen‘s glowing reception and complete lack of competition will help it maintain success for quite a while. If it falls 50 percent this weekend, it’s looking at a $34 million gross and a $136 million total. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Catching Fire' surges to $31.3 million on Friday, 'Frozen' may score $100 million five-day debut

As previously reported, both The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen are headed to record-breaking Thanksgiving weekends at the box office. But Black Friday numbers suggest that both films may be even bigger than originally thought — and both could pull in more than $100 million over the five-day frame!

Catching Fire topped the chart on Friday with a sizzling $31.3 million, which sent it right past the $250 million mark on its eighth day of release. The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are the only two films to ever reach $250 million faster. Catching Fire is currently on pace for a Friday-to-Sunday weekend in the $75-80 million range, which would trail only The Avengers as the best second weekend of all time. Factoring in the combined $35 million that Catching Fire earned on Wednesday and Thursday, the film may pull in $110-120 million over five days, giving it a total of $290-300 million. READ FULL STORY

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