‘Hobbit’ Tops Christmas Box Office
USINFO | 2013-12-30 11:11

Martin Freeman in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug--Warner Bros.

On the day after Christmas, Hollywood is waking up to box office results both naughty and nice.

Despite a bevy of new releases at the multiplex, the number-one spot at the Christmas Day box office went to holdover “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which grossed an estimated $9.3 million on Wednesday to bring its two-week total to $150 million.

The Tolkien-inspired sequel from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. barely beat “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the only Christmas Day release to crack the top three with $9.1 million in the U.S. and Canada. Third place went to “Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” which collected $8.1 million for Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

Christmas has traditionally been a gift for Hollywood, which uses the holiday weeks to release multiple family-friendly attractions and wannabe awards contenders. The $9.1 million collected by “Wolf” is the tenth-highest Christmas Day opening of all time, a record set by “Sherlock Holmes” in 2009 with $24.6 million.

But “Wolf” — a nearly three-hour romp of Wall Street excess, complete with orgies and drug-fueled fantasies — is hardly a traditional Christmas Day offering like last year’s “Les Miserables” or “Marley and Me” in 2008.

Audiences may have been caught off guard by the film, which has won critical raves but earned a low “C” grade from moviegoers, according to the CinemaScore market research firm. The movie, which was distributed by Paramount and financed by Red Granite Pictures for about $100 million, was initially scheduled to come out in November but was pushed back so director Martin Scorsese could have more time to finish the film.

Despite the most crowded holiday season in recent years, no movie emerged as the clear family-friendly favorite.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” starring Ben Stiller as an office worker with dreams of grandeur, opened on Wednesday to a strong $7.8 million. “Walter Mitty” is distributed by Twentieth Century Fox, whose parent company, Twenty-First Century Fox Inc., was until recently part of the same company as the Wall Street Journal.

“Mitty” was matched by “American Hustle,” the David O. Russell tour through 1970s big hair and political corruption from Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Entertainment. The R-rated movie grossed $7.4 million on Christmas.

“Saving Mr. Banks,” Walt Disney Co.’s film about the making of “Mary Poppins,” collected $5.1 million on Wednesday, bringing its cumulative gross to $19.1 million.

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was in limited release when the South African leader died earlier this month. The Weinstein Co. movie, starring Idris Elba as Mr. Mandela, expanded to just under 1,000 screens on Wednesday, grossing $1.6 million.

Other new releases left studios wishing for a Hollywood return policy.

Fox’s “Walking With Dinosaurs” collected a low $1.7 million on Wednesday. And “Grudge Match,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as two aging boxers who come together for a final bout, opened on Wednesday to a low $4 million.

But the disappointment for Warner Bros. over “Grudge Match” was nothing compared to the K.O. delivered to Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

Universal’s long-delayed and much-defamed “47 Ronin” opened to $7 million, a so-so opening for the Keanu Reeves samurai epic, but not one that will come close to justifying the $175 million it cost to make the film. The movie was co-financed with Elliot Management.

Making unlikely company with Mr. Reeves was Justin Bieber, whose concert film “Believe” from Open Road Films failed to attract many teenyboppers, opening to $1.25 million in about 1,000 locations. (On the night before the movie’s opening, Mr. Bieber tweeted, “My beloved beliebers I’m officially retiring,” a message that was retweeted more than 300,000 times.)

Even more movies are on their way. On Friday, possible awards contenders like “Labor Day” from Paramount, Universal’s “Lone Survivor” and Weinstein Co.’s “August: Osage County” will open in limited release to qualify for Academy Award nominations before expanding in the coming weeks.


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