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'Django' Nearly Beats 'Hobbit' for #1 New Year's Day

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 2, 2013 at 5:29PM

The first day of 2013 saw grosses for the top 10 films rise about $3 million - better than 6% - above New Year's 2012. The top 10 stayed the same as for the weekend, with the order finally stabilizing after much shifting, particularly in the top 3. But the film that looks strongest going forward could be "Django Unchained," which was edged out by "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" by a narrow margin - $9.2 million to Peter Jackson's film's $9.4 million, with "Les Miserables" coming in third at a still strong $7.6 million for the day.
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"Django Unchained."
TWC "Django Unchained."

The first day of 2013 saw grosses for the top 10 films rise about $3 million - better than 6% - above New Year's 2012. The top 10 stayed the same as for the weekend, with the order finally stabilizing after much shifting, particularly in the top 3. But the film that looks strongest going forward could be "Django Unchained," which was edged out by "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" by a narrow margin - $9.2 million to Peter Jackson's film's $9.4, with "Les Miserables" coming in third at a still strong $7.6 million for the day.

The results were significanty different from Christmas Day, when opening day interest sparked "Les Miserables" and "Django" to a top two position. But the results a week later are significantly different. "Django" did about 60% of its initial gross, while "Les Miserables," likely aided by a huge fanbase that wanted to see it immediately, only did 40% of its first day. "The Hobbit" in the meantime was only down 15% from last Tuesday, an unexpectedly strong showing good enough to earn it the #1 slot it has held since the weekend.

"Les Miserables" actually was #2 for New Year's Eve, suggesting that its core base of older moviegoers, not as likely to be out partying, still has a strong interest in seeing it. "The Hobbit" meantime should continue to dominate for the rest of the week, with kids out of school more likely to be tickets at theaters than those heading back to work after the holiday.

The remainder of the top 10 showed three new releases doing passable or better business (#4 - "Parental Guidance," #5 - "Jack Reacher", #6 - "This Is 40"). This weekend's business will give more clues as to which of these has strong enough word of mouth to sustain something close to their decent numbers over the holiday. #8 - Guilt Trip and #9 - "Monsters, Inc. 3D" continue to lag and likely have little life beyond next week.

The amazing "Lincoln," #7, on fewer screens than any other film in the top, will have reached $140 million by tomorrow, with no end in sight. "Rise of the Guardians" and its #10 slot would be more impressive had it not so underperformed earlier. A market analyst, viewing worldwide holiday totals, more than doubled his estimate of the write-down Dreamworks will take on the film to $96 million.

"Silver Linings Playbook" maintained its #13 spot at only 745 theaters, now at just under $30 million with its wide release still ahead. Among very limited films, "Zero Dark 30" did a very strong $23,268 per screen average yesterday at its five theaters, while "The Impossible," though not remotely having the same impact, had a PSA of $4,666 at 12, indicating promise for its wider break this Friday. "Promised Land," also going wider the same day, had an at best OK PSA of $2,718 at 25.

"Zero Dark 30" adds limited additional runs as well on Friday. One new very wide release, Lionsgate's "Texas Chainsaw 3D" joins the mix, with the order for the weekend being up in the air. But "Django Unchained" seems to have the most momentum going forward, and could be the film to beat when the dust settles.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.