To see our other box office top 10 breakdowns please go here.
So, here’s what happened this weekend at the domestic box office: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug held as strong in its second weekend as An Unexpected Journey did last year, Anchorman 2 did better than the first Anchorman by some measures but worse by others, American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks had great and respectable openings respectively while Walking with Dinosaurs was more like flopping with dinosaurs….[cricket noise, silence]….you, know, because it’s called Walking With Dinosaurs but it flopped. Ah, forget it. No one gets my humor. Also, seemingly out of nowhere we had in the form of Dhoom 3 an actual Bollywood film make the top 10.
Top 10 Domestic Totals for the 12/20-12/22 Box Office
1. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
- Weekend Gross=$31.4 million
- Total Gross to Date=$127.5 million
- Budget=They’re Not Telling
Foreign: $96 million this weekend for a new total foreign gross of $276.3 million and combined worldwide total of $403.8 million. It’s out pretty much everywhere now, with the remaining major markets being China and Japan.
Last weekend, Desolation of Smaug opened 13% lower than An Unexpected Journey‘s record-setting 2012 December opening. So, how far did Unexpected Journey unexpectedly drop in its second weekend last year? 56%. That’s almost identical to the 57% Smaug just dropped in its second weekend. As such, although the critical reception has been better for Smaug it appears to have enjoyed no noticeably improved word-of-mouth bump above the word-0f-mouth last year for Unexpected Journey. After 10 days, Journey had a domestic gross of $150 million vs. Smaug‘s $127 million. So, the sequel will not end up making more than its predecessor, domestically, but is doing around on par overseas. As argued last week, Smaug is facing far more serious competition than Journey did last year.
How does this compare to the Lord of the Rings films? Well, after 10 days Fellowship had $155 million, Two Towers had $200 million, and Return of the King had $220 million (all domestic). And that’s even before you adjust for ticket price inflation.
2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Opening Weekend)
- 3-Day Weekend Gross=$26.7 million
- 5-Day Gross=$40 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: $13.4 million this weekend from 5 foreign markets or a combined worldwide total of $53.4 million. The original Anchorman had a final foreign gross of a mere $5 million.
The oppressively aggressive advertising blitzkrieg for Anchorman 2 is a point of debate. To some, seeing Ron Burgundy everywhere they looked initiated an unintended Anchorman fatigue whereby they never wanted to see the character ever again, be it in a Dodge commercial or in Anchorman 2. However, to others it was an ingenious move to enhance awareness for a sequel that though oft-quoted and beloved on the internet was actually neither a critical nor great financial success upon its release in 2004. It made $85 million domestic and $5 million international for a worldwide gross of $90 million, which is pretty good for a movie with a $26 million production budget. However, it was nothing compared to Will Ferrell’s biggest hit at that time, the $220 million worldwide gross for Elf in 2003, or what Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd would do in 2005 with the $177 million worldwide gross for The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Since that time, all of the stars of Anchorman (and even co-stars like Vince Vaughn and Luke Wilson) have fallen hard from box office prominence, with more misses than hits. As such, you couldn’t sell the movie on the appeal of the actors but instead of the characters, particularly Ron Burgundy.
Did it work? Well, it’s hard to fairly compare Anchorman to Anchorman 2, since the first came out in the summer while the latter during Christmas. Plus, Anchorman 2 opened on a Wednesday whereas Anchorman opened on the more traditional Friday. On top of that, it’s impossible to know how well Anchorman 2 would have performed with a more traditional, less-ambitious advertising campaign. But the facts are these: In it’s opening weekend, Anchorman made $28.4 million, and after 5 days it had made $36 million vs. Anchorman 2‘s opening weekend total of $26.7 million and 5-day total of $40 million. Those numbers aren’t quite as close when you adjust for ticket prince inflation, in which case at the average 2013 ticket price the first Anchorman would have had an opening weekend of $36 million and 5-day total of $47 million. What that means is the original Anchorman was better attended, selling more tickets than Anchorman 2. Anchorman came out during the second weekend of Spider-Man 2 whereas Anchorman 2 has The Hobbit and Frozen to deal with along with awards contenders like American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks.
Compared to other 2013 comedies, Anchorman 2‘s performance is around on par with We’re the Millers, which also came out on a Wednesday and had an opening weekend total of $26.4 million and 5-day total of $37.9 million. It’s well behind The Heat‘s opening weekend ($39 million) and 5-day total ($49 million). Stay classy, Ron Burgundy, but don’t mess with Melissa McCarthy.
- Weekend Gross=$19.6 million
- Total Gross to Date=$192 million
- Budget=$150 million
Foreign: Information about its performance this past weekend is not available, but prior to this weekend it had grossed a combined $152.6 million foreign which now adds up to a worldwide total of $344.1 million. It has now opened in over half of the potential foreign markets, having just expanded to China. It’s biggest remaining market is Brazil.
Walt Disney Animation Studios last used the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend to release one of their classic princess movies in 2010 in the form of Tangled, which did big business for them to the tune of domestic and worldwide totals of $200 million domestic/$591 million. They did it again this year with Frozen, which has so far had a bigger opening weekend than Tangled and fallen off at almost the exact same percentage in subsequent weekends as Tangled. That trend stopped this weekend, as Frozen only dropped off 15% in its fourth weekend of wide release whereas Tangled dropped 39% in its fourth weekend. In fact, Frozen now sits at $192 million in domestic gross, set to quickly surpass Tangled’s final domestic total of $200 million. For that matter, it’s an even bigger hit than Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph, released last November and topping out at $189 million domestic. At this point, Frozen has now passed The Croods ($189 million) to be the third-highest domestic grossing animated film of 2013, although it won’t come anywhere near the record-setting totals of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University.
4. American Hustle (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$19.1 million
- Total Gross to Date=$20.2 million
- Budget=$40 million
Foreign: $1.9 million in extremely limited foreign release for a worldwide total of $22.1 million.
Take the two best parts of director David O. Russell’s The Fighter (Christian Bale, Amy Adams…sorry Mark Wahlberg), the two best parts of Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence), add in Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the ever reliable Robert De Niro cameo and you get the biggest opening weekend of Russell’s career with American Hustle. With so much star power and 7 Golden Globe nominations, it might be a bit surprising Hustle didn’t open even bigger, but there is a lot of competition out there. Oddly, both The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook were also released in December. The Fighter only made $12 million its opening weekend whereas Silver Linings Playbook was a platform release which did make $10.7 million its first weekend playing nationwide but that expansion didn’t happen until its 10th week of release. Many have been quick to point out that Hustle‘s $19.1 million opening is almost identical to last year’s opening weekend for eventual Best Picture winner Argo, which opened with $19.4 million in early October.
5. Saving Mr. Banks (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$9.3 million
- Total Gross to Date=$9.9 million
- Budget=$35 million
Foreign: Opened in the U.K. and Ireland at the end of November, with any additional major foreign markets coming in 2014. $15.4 million foreign gross to this point for a worldwide gross of $25.3 million.
This might seem a bit low, but a near $10 million opening for a film which cost $35 million to make and is a family-friendly enough that it will likely play well over the upcoming Christmas week is pretty good.
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
- Weekend Gross=$8.7 million
- Total Gross to Date=$371.7 million
- Budget=$130 million
Foreign: Information about its performance this past weekend is not available, but prior to this weekend it had grossed a combined $393 million foreign which now adds up to a worldwide total of $765.3 million. Catching Fire is out in every major market except for Japan, which has to wait until 12/27
The first Hunger Games was a colossal hit in North America ($408 million), and a pretty big hit everywhere else ($283 million). Catching Fire is spreading the glory a bit more evenly, with $371 million domestically and $393 million internationally. As a result, it’s worldwide total of $765 million is well past the first Hunger Games‘ $691 million. It had a surprisingly strong hold this weekend, only dropping 36% after several weeks of dropping around 50%. Will it survive the forthcoming onslaught of new releases over Christmas?
7. A Madea Christmas
- Weekend Gross=$8.3 million
- Total Gross to Date=$28.1 million
- Budget=They’re Not Telling
Foreign: No foreign release has been announced at the moment.
The Tyler Perry brand is on a slight decline. Of his 15 Tyler Perry’s films, two of his all-time lowest grossing titles have come out in the past two years – Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds ($35 million in 2012) and Tyler Perry Presents Peebles ($9.1 million in 2013). This is the first time that decline has been reflected in a strictly Madea film, with Madea Christmas opening lower than expected and dropping around 50% here in its second weekend. Will it rebound over the holidays? Or will it end up being the lowest-grossing Madea film ever, worse than even Madea’s Big Happy Family ($53 million domestic gross) in 2011?
8. Walking with Dinosaurs 3D (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$7 million
- Budget=$80 million
Foreign: Opened in 27 countries outside of North America, including China, U.K., Russia, and Japan. $13.6 million foreign for a worldwide total of $20.9 million.
If something seemed familiar to you about the trailers for Walking With Dinosaurs, you were right. No, it’s not basically CGI Land Before Time, but, yes, Walking With Dinosaurs was originally a BBC min-series. Fox worked with Reliance and IM Global on adapting the mini-series into a film, featuring notables like Justin Long and John Leguizama in the voice cast. Going into the weekend, they were thought to be hoping for an opening of at least $10 to $12 million with the potential to grow over the holidays. Instead, they didn’t even get that, registering as the first bomb of the Christmas movie season, as not even the international market will apparently be able to bail them out.
9. Dhoom: 3 (Opening Weekend)
- Opening Weekend Gross=$3.4 million
- Budget=They’re Not Telling
Foreign: Opened in 9 countries this weekend, including India. The early estimate is that it made $16 million in India, and after its opening weekend its worldwide gross is $28 million.
If you’re an anglophile like me, every now and then you look at the U.K. Box office Top 10 to see how films are playing over there. Often times, when you do that you’ll see a random title you’ve never heard that turns out to be a Bollywood film in the Top 10. Here in North America, that almost never happens which is why Dhoom 3 most likely feels like it has come out of nowhere. This Bollywood action thriller set the North American record for biggest opening day ($1.075 million on Friday) and opening weekend ($3.4 million). This is also the highest gross for any Indian film, Bollywood or not, beating another 2013 title, Chennai Express. All the more impressive is that Dhoom 3 is reportedly around 3 hours long thus minimizing the number of showings per day theaters could fit in for it. However, this didn’t completely come out of nowhere, though, as beyond Chennai Express another Bollywood title (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) also made some noise earlier this year at the box office.
10. Thor: The Dark World
- Weekend Gross=$1.3 million
- Total Gross to Date=$200.7 million
- Budget=$170 million
Foreign: Information about its performance this past weekend is not available, but prior to this weekend it had grossed a combined $426 million foreign which now adds up to a worldwide total of $627 million. It’s out everywhere except for Japan, which has to wait until February.
Thor: The Dark World is winding down at the box office. However, it finally managed to cross $200 million domestic, and is now the third-highest worldwide grossing film in Marvel Studios history, trailing Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion) and The Avengers ($1.5 billion). The Dark World currently ranks as the 8th highest worldwide grossing film of 2013, ahead of The Croods ($587 million) but behind Gravity ($652 million).
What Happened Outside of the Top 10?
Who Fell Out of the Top 10?: Out of the Furnace (#6 to #21), Delivery Man (#7 to #16), The Book Thief (#9 to #13), Philomena (#8 to #11), and Homefront (#10 to #16). Holy crap, did you see how far Out of the Furnace fell? That’s a “off the face of the Earth” type of fall. It now has a $10.9 million domestic total on a $22 million budget.
Notable Performances from Films In Limited Release: Opening in six locations this week, the Spike Jonze critical darling Her earned an okay $361,000 for a per-location average of $43,000. That’s half the business American Hustle did last weekend when it opened at 6 locations.
What’s Up Next?: The Christmas box office blood bath continues with 47 Ronin, Grudge Match, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Wolf of Wall Street all opening wide on Christmas Day and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom finally expanding wide at the same time.
Jeez, enough with the numbers already.