Peter Jackson’s latest Middle-earth adventure The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug grossed $73.6 million in its opening weekend, notching the fourth-best December opening weekend ever, after An Unexpected Journey ($84.6 million), I Am Legend ($77.2 million), and Avatar ($77 million).
Though The Desolation of Smaug marked a 13 percent drop from 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 film in this Hobbit trilogy earned $303 million domestically and over $1 billion worldwide. Even if The Desolation of Smaug doesn’t match those figures, it will still be a hugely profitable project for the studio.
The sequel pulled in 49 percent of its weekend gross from 3-D ticket sales, whereas IMAX screens hit $9.2 million of its haul. Among the audience, there were 60 percent male and 64 percent above the age of 25, and majority of them weren’t all convinced to give the series a second try after being turned off by the more juvenile An Unexpected Journey. The Desolation of Smaug secured an “A–” CinemaScore grade.
Additionally, the heat of dragon’s breath wasn’t enough to melt the Disney’s animated musical Frozen. The film fell only 30 percent to $22.2 million in its third weekend, scoring a remarkable $164.4 million – already making up for its $150 million budget.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, the only other wide release to “Smaug” this weekend, also underperformed, and unwrapped only $16.2 million. The film marked the second-lowest start ever for Perry as a director after 2007’s Daddy’s Little Girls, which opened with $11.2 million.
Two blockbuster sequels again make their way the top five. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire dropped 50 percent in its fourth weekend to $13.2 million, blazing a total of $357 million – that’s really an amazing score for a movie made with a $130 million budget. Just one step lower, Thor: The Dark World stashes $2.7 million in its sixth frame and has now grossed $198.1 million.
In limited release, Sony’s “American Hustle,” which was Launched at six locations post-Golden Globes nominations, grossed a stellar $115,000 per-screen average. It’s the second best of the year after Frozen which earned $243,390 premiere weekend in one theater.
The final domestic figures for this weekend, are as follows:
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – $73.7
- Frozen – $22.2
- A Madea Christmas – $16.2
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – $13.2
- Thor: The Dark World – $2.7
- Out of the Furnace – $2.3
- Delivery Man – $1.9
- Philomena – $1.8
- The Book Thief – $1.7
- Homefront – $1.6