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Weekend Top Ten: Number One 'Hobbit' Underperforms as 'American Hustle,' 'Frozen' and 'Catching Fire' Sizzle

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood December 15, 2013 at 1:10PM

The second Peter Jackson "Hobbit" film "Desolation of Smaug" is launching well below expectations--and last year's "Hobbit" opening. But despite that and harsh winter weather in much of the country, the weekend top ten total was up by $10 million over last year. Coming to the rescue: strong holds for blockbusters "Frozen" and "Catching Fire" as well as a $15-million opening for Tyler Perry's latest "Madea" entry.
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"Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas"
"Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas"

3. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: D+; Metacritic: 25

$16,160,000 in 2,194 theaters; PSA: $7,293; Cumulative: $16,160,000

The "Madea" films have been falling in their opening weekends from a high of $41 million down to $25 million for "Witness Protection" last year, but none of them has opened up in the often deadly pre-Christmas period where opening numbers often are deflated. This tends to be even more so for films with predominantly female interest like this. Lionsgate can revel in a solid audience response (the A- Cinemascore grade). With this poised to maintain most of these theaters over the next few weeks, and with a modest production budget of $25 million, this should eke out enough domestic gross (the foreign take for this franchise is minimal) to end up in profit, although by a slimmer margin than most of the other entries in the series.

What comes next: Next weekend won't be good, but watch for something of a rebound starting on Christmas day.

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lionsgate) Week 4 - Last weekend #2

$13,150,000 (-50%) in 3,563 theaters (-600); PSA: $3,691; Cumulative: $357,000,000

The 50% drop for this is normal for the time of year, more so when it was the film hurt most by the "Hobbit" opening, but the big news here is that at $740 million worldwide, this has now topped last year's franchise start. International has gone up strongly from last time, when international did only around 70% of the domestic take. Now with domestic looking to equal last year's haul, foreign should increase enough to get to exceed $800 million.

What comes next: This needs to reach $409 million to top "Iron Man 3" to be the best for domestic gross this year, which remains possible if it holds through the holidays in most theaters. Worldwide though it won't get close (the Marvel sequel did $1.2 billion).

5. Thor: The Dark World (Buena Vista) Week 6 - Last weekend #4

$2,700,000 (-44%) in 2,264 theaters (-810); PSA: $1,193; Cumulative: $198,125,000

Even better overseas (the worldwide total is now $620 million), this still makes the top 5 late in its domestic run, which isn't over yet.

What comes next: Japan has yet to open, which will make the gap between this and the first "Thor" ($449 million worldwide) even bigger.

6. Out of the Furnace (Relativity) Week 2 - Last weekend #3

$2,320,000 (-56%) in theaters (unchanged); PSA: $1,104; Cumulative: $9,468,000

Christian Bale's star power is boosting hit "American Hustle," but this struggling heavier drama may have been too dark to cross over to a wider audience and continues to fall short of Relativity's expectations.

What comes next: Most of international was presold, defraying much of the film's cost. But the domestic take will struggle to cover the costs of marketing, making this an ultimate loss.

7. Delivery Man (Buena Vista) Week 4 - Last weekend #5

$1,872,000 (-50%) in 2,041 theaters (-864); PSA: $917; Cumulative: $27,995,000

Nearing the end of its run. this Vince Vaughn sperm-donor comedy has managed to gross equal to its production cost, but will need much more foreign to have a chance to break even.

What comes next: The scattered foreign openings so far have been minor, making recouping unlikely.

8. Philomena (Weinstein) Week 4 - Last weekend #9

$1,756,000 (-20%) in theaters (unchanged); PSA: $2,103; Cumulative: $11,019,000

This had the best hold in the top 10, an encouraging sign for what is turning out to be another in a series of recent Weinstein distribution moves that has paid off despite risk (in this case, the early leap to a wider run). With this Judi Dench-starring drama scoring well with early nominations, it looks now that this should be able to hold on to enough theaters to continue through the lucrative holiday playtime and then have the potential of expanding possibly further after the Oscar announcements. This is somewhat similar to last year's very successful rollout of "Silver Linings Playbook" in design at least. This won't ever reach that film's heights, but this has been positioned to similarly build and then be maximized based on increased attention and good audience response.

What comes next: With "August: Osage County" now going wide on January 10, this and the expansion of "Mandela" are Weinstein's only Christmas offerings, so even in a crowded market they should be able to target enough screens to get representative play for both films.


9. The Book Thief (20th Century-Fox) Week 6 - Last weekend #7

$1,675,000 (-36%) in 1,158 theaters (-158); PSA: $1,446; Cumulative: $14,877,000

A decent hold for this time of year, as Fox continues to get as much out of this serious eve of World War II German-set drama as they can. This won't be able to hold many of these runs much longer though, so an ultimate total of $20 million seems out of reach.

What comes next: Foreign is going to need to kick in significantly better for this to have any chance to make back its budget.

10. Homefront (Open Road) Week 3 - Last weekend #6

$1,637,000 (-52%) in 2,103 theaters (-467); PSA: $778; Cumulative: $18,438,000

Coming to the end of its lackluster run, this Jason Statham/James Franco action film is going to end up grossing less than earlier better efforts from Open Road, which continues to be a home for independently-made wide audience appeal acquisitions.

What comes next: This will not make it much past $20 million.


This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office Top Ten, Box Office, Thompson on Hollywood, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, Tyler Perry, American Hustle


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