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Weekend Box Office: Hobbit, Frozen Fend Off Christmas Onslaught as Newcomers Fall Short

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By Chris Kavan - 12/29/13 at 07:40 PM CT

It looks like Hollywood won't end up with coal this year. The top 12 films brought in $185.8 million - a 13% increase from the same time last year - and it should be enough to cap off 2013 as the most lucrative year yet for movies (though not attendance - because inflation and all that). Still, it should be interesting to note that out of the five new releases, only one was able to crack the top five over the weekend - and at least three can be considered pretty noticeable bombs for the respective studios and/or actors involved. Let's break it down:


Although Peter Jackson's Hobbit sequel has been getting mixed reviews, it is only the second film of 2013 to take the top spot three weeks in a row (the other being Gravity). With another $29.85 million in the bank, The Desolation of Smaug now stands at $190.3 million and will easily shoot passed the $200 million mark by next weekend on its way to total somewhere around the $250 million mark. January is looking pretty sparse for releases, so The Hobbit should be able to stick around for at least three more weeks - and probably more. The film was down just over 5% - and although it's going to fall short of the $300 million mark that seems to be the benchmark for the other films in the series.


Thanks to the overwhelming response from families - and being that it has almost no competition to speak of - Frozen jumped 47% compared to last weekend to took over the second place spot with $28.8 million in its fifth weekend. That ranks as fifth all time for a movie playing in its fifth weekend. Thus far the animated hit has brought in $248.36 million and, much like The Hobbit, has little upcoming competition and should be able to close out above the $300 million mark, which would also place it into the top five for any film of 2013. It's amazing just how well Frozen has held up and just goes to show that a choice release date - and clicking with your target audience - will go a long way towards making a success story.


The boys are back in town - and while they may have dropped a spot, it's looking like the news team is going to be able to top the first Anchorman crew. Taking in $20.15 million (down about 25% from last weekend) - the film now stands at $83.66 million - and it's about to surpass the $85.3 million the original film brought in. The comedy is on pace to cross the $100 million mark in a week or two - though that now looks like the only major milestone it's going to be able to cross.


David O. Russell's well-received period piece American Hustle was up 2.3% compared to last weekend and held on to its fourth-place spot with $19.55 million. The 70s era flick now stands at $60 million and with that awards season love, it should be able to cross the $100 million mark as well. For once having an all-star cast turned out to be a good thing - and all those perms and cleavage look fantastic too.


The only new wide-release film that managed to claw its way into the top five was Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street. Over the weekend it brought in $18.5 million ($34.5 million for the five-day total). The movie attracted a mostly male (54%) and decidedly older (90% over 25) audience. At three hours, the movie scored a rather dreadful "C" cinemascore - that usually means a movie has a short lifeline in theaters. But Wall Street benefits from a namebrand director and a cast to boot - and while it's not likely to be his most successful film to date, it should still be able to approach the $100 million mark - especially if it benefits from some awards attention (though that remains to be seen).

Outside the top five: While 2013 was an embarrassment of riches, the rest of the pack this week could just be considered an embarrassment. Only two other wide release films were able to crack the top 10. Ben Stiller's Secret Life of Walter Mitty opened in 7th place with $13 million ($25.6 million over the five day period) and is a far cry from the likes of Night at the Museum ($30.43 million) or Meet the Parents ($28.62 million) and is even noticeably worse than Tower Heist ($24 million). I think the issue is Walter Mitty can't decide if it's a serious drama or a light-hearted comedy - though the "B+" Cinemascore at least means audiences liked this one.

Too bad the same can't be said of 47 Ronin. The long-gestating samurai epic from Keanu Reeves could only eek out a $9.87 9th place opening ($20.6 million over five day). The $200 million film is going to earn less than $50 million domestically and internationally it's not doing much better - Universal is going to take a bath on this one, though don't feel bad - with Fast 6 and Despicable Me 2, they're not going to feel too big a sting. For Reeves, however, it may take a longer time to recover his image, given how much of passion project this was for him.

But those two are nothing compared to the real failures. Grudge Match, the Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro boxing flick that (no one?) very few people were asking for, opened to a dismal $7.3 million ($13.4 million five day) total - in 11th place. Maybe it's time for the aging actors to try something new (or take some time off) because not even the red-hot Kevin Hart could help these guys out.

Finally, Justin Beiber's Believe opened just where it should have - with $2 million down in 14th place. I was really hoping he was gone for good (following the now-infamous "retirement tweet heard round the world") but it turns out that was just another playful tease and sadly he will be back in the studio. Hopefully this development means he'll stick to singing and will get out of the movie biz for good.

After such a busy Christmas weekend - New Year's isn't going to be nearly as dramatic. The only new wide release for the new year will be Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Considering that January has become the new October for horror films (where even terrible films like The Devil Inside can do well) this may well turn out to be an excellent decision.


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