After two dreadful weekends at the box office, Gandalf, Bilbo, and a whole motley crew of dwarves have come to the film industry’s rescue — and not even the dragon Smaug will be able to keep them from grabbing a whole lot of treasure.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first entry in a trilogy produced by Warner Bros. (and technically MGM as well) for a reported $600 million, arrives in theaters nine years after the original Lord of the Rings franchise concluded. Those three Lord of the Rings films opened over this same weekend in Dec. 2001, 2002 and 2003, grossing $47.2 million, $62.0 million, and $72.6 million in their respective debut weekends, and all three eventually earned over $300 million domestically. Because the series was so well-received from the very beginning, each subsequent release performed better than its predecessor, and the final entry, The Return of the King, topped out with $377 million domestically and $1.1 billion worldwide — not to mention an Academy Award for Best Picture.
After nearly a decade of waiting — during which the LOTR series was devoured voraciously on DVD — The Hobbit, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the LOTR series, is now poised to maintain the franchise’s box office vitality, at least on opening weekend. The Hobbit will almost certainly continue the trend of rising opening weekend grosses. The question is now how high it can climb. READ FULL STORY »