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Benedict Cumberbatch on playing a villain: Will 'Star Trek' feel his wrath?

They share the face and the brandy-hued baritone, but you could never mistake Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch for the prickly savant of the BBC’s Baker Street — not only is the actor relentlessly polite he’s also never clubbed a cadaver in the name of scientific inquiry. The sleuth may have shined through for a moment last summer though when Cumberbatch showed a Holmesian impatience for unanswered questions and state secrets. “It’s achingly irritating,” Cumberbatch said when asked about the secrecy surrounding his role in this May’s Star Trek Into Darkness. “Believe me, I’d rather talk about the role and the fantastic story and all the things J.J. [Abrams] has come up with. And then everyone would be as excited about the film as I am. But then of course I think I would be on a phone call coming from J.J.’s office…” READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' slashes up bloody good $10.2 million on Friday

Nearly 40 years after the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre entered theaters, Leatherface is back once again for a new reboot/sequel called Texas Chainsaw 3D, which buzzed down the competition on Friday. Texas Chainsaw 3D scored a robust $10.2 million in its first day (well, technically that gross includes Thursday night shows), which easily put it in first place. Like almost all horror movies, though, Texas Chainsaw 3D, which earned a weak “C+” CinemaScore grade, will likely prove remarkably frontloaded over the course of its debut weekend, and it may finish the frame with about $22-23 million, making this the second year in a row — following The Devil Inside‘s $33.7 million bow last January — that a horror movie has kicked off the new year in first place. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hobbit' outdraws 'Django' and 'Les Mis' with $32.9 million

Bilbo-Baggins

Despite the arrival of two holiday heavyweights, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey retained the top spot at the box office for the third weekend in a row.

Warner Bros.’ $250 million fantasy prequel was held out of the top spot from Tuesday until Thursday by Les Miserables, but over the traditional weekend frame Hobbit dipped only 11 percent to bring in $32.9 million, and its domestic total now stands tall at $222.7 million. After 17 days, The Hobbit is performing well ahead of 2001′s The Fellowship of the Ring, which had earned $189.3 million at the same point in its run (though that number climbs to about $260 million after accounting for inflation), but it still trails the 17-day cumes of The Two Towers ($243.6 million), and The Return of the King ($272.8 million). Notably, those films did not have 3D or IMAX surcharges boosting their totals. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hobbit' journeys back to No. 1; 'Django' and 'Les Mis' stay strong

UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY

Snowstorms in the northeast may be limiting moviegoing attendance this weekend, but inclement weather won’t stop Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf from ringing in the New Year in style.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey returned to the top of the box office on Friday, crossing the $200 million mark in the process. The $250 million Warner Bros. release grossed an estimated $10.7 million on Friday, putting it on pace for a $31 million weekend, which would bring its total to about $221 million and lift its worldwide cume past $600 million. READ FULL STORY

Fandango sets new sales record on Christmas Day

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Even more proof that Christmas Day was far from misérable at the box office: Fandango reports that Tuesday was its best-ever single day for ticket sales, breaking a record set when The Avengers opened on May 4.

“Our record-breaking sales point to a tremendous variety of holiday film choices that are connecting with audiences,” Fandango president Paul Yanover said in a statement. A glance at the online broker’s top Christmas Day sellers shows the truth of his words — between box office champ Les Misérables, Django Unchained, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Parental Guidance, and This Is 40, audiences had a wide range of genres to choose between.

Les Mis opened to $18.2 million on Tuesday, giving it the second-best Christmas opening in history. Django Unchained saw similarly big numbers, raking in $15 million total; The Hobbit came in third place with $11.3 million.

Read more:
‘Les Miserables’: The EW Exit Poll!
Natalie Portman, Kristen Stewart top Forbes list of most bankable stars
Box office update: ‘Les Miserables’ wins Christmas day with huge $18.2 million

Box Office Report: 'The Hobbit' holds number one spot, 'Jack Reacher' and 'This is 40' disappoint

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It was a fairly slow weekend at the box office.

Despite a record-breaking opening, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey experienced a significant 57% drop off in its second week, bringing in an estimated $36.7 million, with an $8,952 per screen average. This brings The Hobbit’s ten-day gross to $149.9 million, tracking about 8% behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s ten-day gross.

Paramount’s Jack Reacher (Cinema Score: A-) opened this past weekend in second place with a modest $15.6 million. Based on the popular Lee Child-created character, the Tom Cruise action flick has been somewhat of a box office wild card and will have to struggle to maintain momentum to make up the costs for the $60 million production. The weekend prior to the Christmas holiday isn’t usually the strongest at the box office, but last year Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opened wide on December 21 at $29.6 million. As many have already mentioned, Jack Reacher fans are perhaps put off by the casting, since the character is supposed to be physically imposing at 6’5″.

Judd Apatow’s comedy This is 40 (Cinema Score: B-) also opened this weekend at $12 million to take third place. Though not abysmal, it doesn’t hold a candle to the $22.7 million, number one opening for Funny People, Apatow’s last directorial effort. But of course, Funny People starred Adam Sandler, which likely contributed to the strong opening. A sort of-sequel to Knocked Up (which opened at $30.7 million), This is 40 stars Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Albert Brooks, and boasts an impressively large cast including John Lithgow, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox, Michael Ian Black, and Lena Dunham. But the 134-minute run time and Paul Rudd’s relatively low box office draw may have contributed to the low first weekend earnings.

Things did not fare as well for other weekend openings, including the Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen road trip comedy The Guilt Trip (Cinema Score: B-) and Monsters, Inc. 3D, both of which failed to break the top five, bringing in $5.4 million and $5 million, respectively.

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Box office preview: 'Jack Reacher' leads new releases, but can't compete with 'The Hobbit'

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Whether or not the world ends tomorrow, things are looking pretty dire for the four new wide releases entering theaters this weekend: Jack Reacher, This is 40, The Guilt Trip, and Monsters Inc. 3D. Of course, December movies need not earn gargantuan grosses on their debut weekends to eventually end up with respectable totals. In 2010, Yogi Bear opened with a weak $16.4 million, but thanks to easy accessibility over the holiday season, when kids are out of school and adults off of work, the film eventually topped out at $100.2 million.

Studios will be hoping for similar endurance from this week’s crop of newcomers — none of them are tracking particularly well, and all of them will likely be crushed by the second weekend of The Hobbit. Here’s how I think the box office might shake out over the Friday-to-Sunday period:

1. The Hobbit – $37 million

The Warner Bros. release has earned $106.5 million in its first six days (for reference, The Return of the King had earned $137.6 million in the same period of time), and it will likely drop by about 55 percent this weekend to $37 million, which would lift its total to about $150 million after ten days. READ FULL STORY

'The Hobbit': The story behind Neil Finn's dwarvish end credits tune, 'Song of the Lonely Mountain'

The films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy left its audiences on the note of three ethereal women’s voices, including Annie Lennox, who earned Return of the King one of its 11 Oscars. Now as director Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth with the dwarf-packed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the voice of New Zealand musician Neil Finn serenades the audience when its final frame fades to black.

“The story is very much a dwarf tale as much as it is called The Hobbit,” says Finn, who sings “Song of the Lonely Mountain,” the majestic and epic yet intimate and warm ballad of the dwarves that closes out the first film of Jackson’s new trilogy.

“Song of the Lonely Mountain” shares its melody with “Misty Mountains,” a tune heard earlier in the film that the 13 dwarves bellow in solemn baritone before setting out on their quest with Bilbo Baggins. New Zealand artists Plan 9 and David Long, who wrote and performed songs in The Lord of the Rings, brought their talents again to The Hobbit, setting J.R.R. Tolkien’s verse to music for “Misty Mountains.” The melody also appears in Howard Shore’s score, where it is brought to even greater heights with a stately brass section. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'The Hobbit' breaks December record with $84.8 million weekend

Bilbo-Baggins

As expected, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, crushed the competition at the box office in its debut weekend, setting a new December record in the process.

The Middle-earth-set film grossed $84.8 million over its first three days, handily surpassing I Am Legend‘s $77.2 million bow, which has held the record for best December debut since 2007. The Hobbit earned that $84.8 million from 4,045 theaters, giving it a powerful $20,958 per theater average. Included in that theater count were 326 IMAX locations, which accounted for $10.1 million of the weekend gross, as well as 461 locations that showed the film in the controversial 48 frames per second rate — those screenings, thankfully, had no surcharge. About 49 percent of The Hobbit‘s weekend take came from 3-D showings.

All told, The Hobbit‘s debut weekend was obviously strong, but it must be said that it finished at the low end of pre-release expectations, most of which had the film earning more than $100 million in its debut frame. The Hobbit, the first in a trilogy produced by New Line and MGM (with Warner Bros. distributing) for a reported $600 million, earned $37.5 million on Friday, yet it only managed an internal multiplier (that’s weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.25 — a very low number that signifies front-loaded performance. Judging by The Hobbit‘s 25 percent plummet on Saturday, it appears that the Tolkien faithful rushed out for the film early in the weekend. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'The Hobbit' walks away with $37.5 million on Friday

UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY

We already knew that The Hobbit earned a whopping $13.0 million during midnight showings, but over the course of its first full day in theaters the film took in an estimated $37.5 million, the highest gross ever for a December opening day.

The next best December bow was also of the Middle-earth variety – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King grossed $34.5 million on its opening day, a Wednesday, in 2003. Notably, The Hobbit sold fewer tickets on its opening day than Return of the King, but its gross was higher because of ticket price inflation and 3-D/IMAX surcharges. Still, huge is huge — and The Hobbit is headed for a mammoth debut. READ FULL STORY

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