By Diana Drumm | The Playlist December 29, 2013 at 3:03PM
We're in the last leg of the winter holidays and it shows at the box office with strong holdovers leading the pack. This weekend, in between Christmas and New Year's Eve, marks that wonderful time when whole families pile in droves to see those films they've been hearing so much about (Did you take Nana and Pop-Pop to see "August: Osage County"?), those who can escape to catch up on Oscar contenders. ("Her" is in limited release and well worth the drive) and an interesting third group reveling in the holiday cheer (not naming names, but we know someone over the age of 10 who saw "Frozen" for the third time). Weekend estimates have come in with a fantasy film about an adventurer of short stature leaving home and a Disney fairy tale laden with tunes and pop psychology topping the chart, and we're not talking about "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Saving Mr. Banks."
Neck-and-neck throughout the weekend, "Frozen" looked to finally reclaim the top spot (with Friday estimates placing the Disney animated musical in the lead), but today's figures show that "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" swooped in on Saturday and Sunday to hold on to its perch atop the box office heap for the third weekend in a row (just as its predecessor "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had held its own this weekend last year). For the three-day weekend, 'Hobbit 2' raked in $30 million, nearing the $200 million mark domestically with a running total of $190.3 million. As of Boxing Day (Thursday), 'Hobbit 2' has made over $500 million worldwide. With such strong domestic and international numbers and premieres in China and Japan on the horizon (February 21st and 28th, respectively), there's a pretty big chance that 'Hobbit 2' could cross the $1 billion mark in the upcoming weeks, which would make it the 18th film to do so, if 'Catching Fire' doesn't beat it to the punch (not-so-coincidentally, 'Hobbit 1' was the 17th). Do you think 'Hobbit 2' will stay on top next weekend or will audiences succumb to the horror counter-programming of "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones" like they did the same weekend last year when "Texas Chainsaw 3D" beat out 'Hobbit 1'? We'll see next weekend whether American audiences have had enough of Peter Jackson's tentpole or whether they can't get enough of Benedict Cumberbatch's slithery, sinister serpent.
Following in second and holding onto a very slight train (trailing by only $1 million), "Frozen" conjured up $29 million and is nearing the $250 million mark domestically, with a running total of $248.4 million. After cutting back by 205 theaters (3,540 to 3,335), the animated film still managed an eye-popping 46.9% increase in ticket sales, thanks to families following great word-of-mouth. The weekend marks the second best for a film in its sixth weekend, beating out "Titanic" ($25.2 million) and not quite catching "Avatar" ($34.9 million).
In third, the legend does indeed continue with "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" as it closes in on its predecessor's $85 million run in only its second weekend. 'Anchorman 2' cashed in $20.2 million for the three-day weekend, with its running domestic total clocking in at $83.7 million.
With a duo of con artist movies duking it out for fourth, David O. Russell's "American Hustle" outsold Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" by under $1 million. With strong buzz from audiences and critics alike, "American Hustle" (studded with stars and cringey '70s hairstyles) got $19.6 million out of the American public, crossing the $50 million mark domestically in its third weekend (second in wide release). Making the cut for the top five, "The Wolf of Wall Street" (studded with stars and cringey pre-recession stockbrokers) snatched up $18.5 million for the three-day weekend. Not expected to do phenomenally as a 3-hour, barely R-rated epic on the highs and lows of '90s greed and excess opening on Christmas day in wide release, the film held its own well enough and with interest being piqued through already-in-motion word-of-mouth (Cocaine, hookers, a monkey? Oh my!), 'The Wolf' should stick around on the top ten, though it's very unlikely that it will move up any higher.
More magic from the wonderful world of Disney, "Saving Mr. Banks" may have dropped a spot on the leader board to sixth but it increased in ticket sales by a whopping 50% without any change in theater count. Making $14 million for the three-day weekend, "Saving Mr. Banks" has now grossed $37.8 million domestically, covering its production budget of $35 million in its third weekend. Centering around another dreamer who makes his living over stills (photographic rather than animated), Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" opened on Christmas day and made $13 million for the three-day weekend ($26 million for the five-day). Panned by critics (not enough, some would say), the film leapt to be a holiday hit in its ad campaign, but unlike Walter Mitty jumping into a burning building to save his romantic interest's dog, it failed to stick the landing. The question remains whether it will stay afloat long enough to recoup its reported $91 million budget or will flail in the choppy waters until it sinks into the murky abyss off of the box office top ten. We're leaning towards the latter, though some say it still could be a hit in the long run for nostalgists (aka old people) and Middle America (aka the Sticks) with its PG-rating and subject matter (seizing the day and your dream gal), but when have those demographics ever determined anything outside of politics?
In its sixth weekend, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" made $10.2 million for the weekend, up 16.4% from last weekend and nearing the $400 million domestically with a running total of $391.1 million ($784.7 million worldwide). Also working off of a 100+ million budget ($175 million to be exact), the Keanu Reeves-starring samurai picture "47 Ronin" opened dismally with under $10 million ($9.9 million). Rounding out the holiday weekend, the only outright Christmas film "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" jollied in $7.4 million for a running domestic total of $43.7 million, still trailing behind the rest of the Madea series.
Markedly not in the top ten, "Grudge Match" starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as former boxers coming out of retirement after yada yada money yada debuted in eleventh and made $7.3 million for the three-day weekend ($13.4 million since opening on Christmas day). Maybe a lesson has been learned and we'll finally get nice things from these two acting icons again? Also falling to the wayside, "Walking with Dinosaurs," the only other markedly kiddie fare outside of "Frozen," trudged in twelfth for its second weekend with $7.1 million.
As for specialty box office, big name debuts reigned supreme with the Tracy Letts-penned, Weinstein Company-produced "August: Osage County" in the lead. After mixed reviews out of Toronto and pushing its original fall release to Christmas day, the Midwestern family drama (adapted from Letts' play of the same name) opened in 5 theaters and made $179,475 for the three-day weekend, averaging $35,895 per theater. After generally positive reviews out of Toronto and NYFF, Ralph Fiennes' "The Invisible Woman" also opened Christmas day in 3 theaters and made $37,149 for the three-day weekend, averaging $12,383 per theater. Fiennes' second directorial project, the film is based on the Claire Tomalin book of the same name and follows the story of Ellen Ternan, an actress turned school marm by way of becoming Charles Dickens' mistress. In third place and its second weekend, Asghar Farhadi's"The Past" expanded from 3 to 5 theaters and made $39,200, averaging $7,840 per theater and nearing the domestic $1 million mark with a running total of $93,200. In fourth place and its fourth weekend, Joel & Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis" expanded from 148 to 161 theaters and made $1,255,000, averaging $7,795 per theater and nearing the domestic $5 million mark with a running total of $4.6 million. In fifth place and its second weekend, Xiaogang Feng's "Personal Tailor" stayed in 9 theaters and made $51,000, averaging $5,667 per theater and crossing the domestic $250k mark with a running total of $253,000.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros.) - $29,850,000 ($190,304,000)
2. Frozen (Buena Vista) - $28,845,000 ($248,366,000
3. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Paramount) - $20,150,000 ($83,667,000)
4. American Hustle (Sony) - $19,550,000 ($60,035,000)
5. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) - $18,510,000 ($34,302,000)
6. Saving Mr. Banks (Buena Vista) - $14,021,000 ($37,844,000)
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Fox) - $13,000,000 ($25,595,000)
8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) - $10,200,000 ($391,124,000)
9. 47 Ronin (Universal) - $9.869,000 ($20,571,000)
10. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas - $7,400,000 ($43,719,000)