By Diana Drumm | The Playlist December 22, 2013 at 2:42PM
By Odin's raven, by the beard of Zeus, by the furry foot of Bilbo ("the bravest little hobbit of them all," according to legend/fan Leonard Nimoy)... Tolkien enthusiasts stood their ground against Anchorman's cult following and massive marketing campaign (Buy Dodge). As the dust settled, the streets did indeed run red (or at least reddish) with Burgundy's blood as Smaug's fire-belly burnt Baxter, Doby and the Channel 4 news team to smithereens. Not to say that it wasn't a battle of worthy adversaries, with 'Hobbit 2' suffering the largest percentage drop on the leaderboard (57.3% decrease), but 'Smaug' managed past that dent under its left wing and maintained its spot on top of the box office heap. Also of note for the weekend, there was a 36.6% increase at the overall box office since last year, proving that sometimes mediocre, rather than miserable, weather can be good for ticket sales.
Reigning supreme in its second weekend, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" expanded by another 25 theaters to 3,928 and made $31.5 million. Crossing the domestic $100 million mark, the film's domestic running total is $127.5 million (with a worldwide one of $403.8 million). Still falling a bit short of its predecessor ("The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had made $150 million domestically by its second weekend), it isn't likely that it will surpass the billion worldwide of 'Unexpected Journey,' but we're holding out for $750 million. With "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" opening Christmas day, 'The Desolation of Smaug' should be coming down from the mountain next weekend, falling a spot or two but still strong.
Almost ten years after "Anchorman," we finally got the follow-up this past Wednesday (and not just an outtake compilation—looking at you, "Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie") with "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." Though not a massive hit out of the gate, the first film built a substantial cult following thanks to such quote-worthy lines (and as the years went by, meme and .gif-worthy) as "Stay classy, San Diego," "I love lamp," "Dorothy Mantooth was a saint!" and countless more. So, in spite of the general wariness about a comedy sequel (Sure, "The Hangover II" made money—but is it a classic, even amongst frat bros? Nah), there was some buzz around the box office water cooler (aka the interwebs) that this following combined with the onslaught of promotional material could lead to a number one spot for Ron Burgundy and mark a $30+ million opening weekend. Alas, it wasn't meant to be and the sequel actually did worse at the box office than its predecessor, even with the devoted fan base. Marking the worst opening of Adam McKay's directorial career and shy by a little less than $2 million of "Anchorman" (which opened with $28.4 million summer 2004), "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" opened with $26.8 million.
Slipping a bit on the ice, "Frozen" slid from second to third and made $19.2 million for the weekend, nearing the domestic $200 million mark with a running total $191.6 million. Marking the highest grossing wide release weekend of David O. Russell's career (beating out the $10.8 million of "Silver Linings Playbook" and $12.1 million of "The Fighter" in their first wide release weekends), "American Hustle" hustled its way to fourth and made $19.1 million after a very limited release (six theaters) last weekend. "Saving Mr. Banks" followed a similar tact and expanded from five to 2,110 theaters this past weekend, though missed the "American Hustle" mark by roughly ten million. In fifth, "Saving Mr. Banks" banked $9.3 million for the weekend. In the embers but not forgotten, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" came in sixth and made $8.8 million for the weekend domestically, crossing the worldwide $750 million mark with a massive running total of $765 million worldwide. With those figures, 'Catching Fire' is now second at the box office for the entirety of 2013, after "Iron Man 3" and its $409 million. Not so cheery, "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" stumbled down four spots and made $8.5 million.
Opening in eighth, "Walking With Dinosaurs" failed to drum up the "'Avatar' but for children" demographic it was aiming for (with promotional spots saying, "Experience the adventure that seeks to give kids what Avatar offered to adults") and walked off with $7.3 million from 3,231 theaters. Do families really want a 3-D "Land Before Time"? The numbers say no. In ninth, "Dhoom 3" (the third installment in the 'Dhoom' Hindi action thriller series) opened in 236 theaters and made a record-breaking $3.3 million. "Dhoom 3" marks the highest Bollywood opening ever in North America and the highest grossing opening of any Indian movie ever, surpassing previous record holder "Chennai Express" and its $2.2 million opening from earlier this year. After "Her" (which opened in only six theaters), "Dhoom 3" has the second highest per theater average of the weekend, averaging $14,004 per theater. By the hammer of... "Thor: The Dark World" struck up another $1.3 million for the weekend, crossing the domestic $200 million mark with a running total of $200.8 million.
In limited release, Spike Jonze's "Her" opened in six theaters and made $257,815. The film about a personal letter ghostwriter (Joaquin Phoenix), a future-day Cyrano of sorts, falling in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is not only racking up the wins (including Best Picture from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association) and nominations (including 3 Golden Globe nods), but also debuted with the largest per-theater average of the weekend, averaging $42,969 per theater.
As for specialty box office, Bollywood may have dominated by breaking the top ten, but Chinese cinema also had a strong weekend with Xiaogang Feng's "Personal Tailor" leading the rest of the indie pack. The comedy-drama about an acting troupe who runs a company that provides people with the opportunity to live out their dreams (a sort of follow-up to Feng's "The Dream Factory") opened in 9 theaters and made $104,000, averaging $11,555 per theater. On its first day, "Personal Tailor" made $13.2 million (80 million yuan) worldwide and by its second day, it had made $15 million (152 million yuan), setting the record for the fastest 2D film to reach 100 million yuan in China (beating out last year's "Journey to the West"). In second, Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" opened in 3 theaters and made $30,942, averaging $10,314 per theater. Up for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film (but edged out of the Oscar race), a French woman (Berenice Bejo of "The Artist") is deserted by her Iranian husband and falls for another man while pursuing divorce. In third place and its third week, Joel and Ethan Coen's holdover "Inside Llewyn Davis" expanded from 15 to 148 theaters and made $1,061,000, averaging $7,169 per theater. In fourth place and its fourth week, Justin Chadwick's holdover "Mandela: Long Walk of Freedom" screened in 4 theaters and made $28,472, averaging $7,118 per theater. In fifth place and its sixth week, Alexander Payne's holdover "Nebraska" expanded from 250 to 310 theaters and made $580,000, averaging $1,871 per theater.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Warner Bros.) - $31,455,000 ($127,500,000)
2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Paramount) - $26,766,000 ($40,000,000)
3. Frozen (Buena Vista) - $19,163,000 ($191,555,000)
4. American Hustle (Sony) - $19,100,000 ($20,200,000)
5. Saving Mr. Banks (Buena Vista) - $9,321,000 ($9,947,000)
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (LionsGate) - $8,750,000 ($371,700,000)
7. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (LionsGate) - $8,500,000 ($28,300,000)
8. Walking With Dinosaurs (Fox) - $7,300,000
9. Dhoom 3 (Yash) - $3,305,000
10. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) - $1,328,000 ($200,766,000)