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Saturday Top Ten Preview: 'The Hobbit' Gobbles Up 80% of Box Office, 'Lincoln' Strong

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood December 15, 2012 at 3:49PM

As expected, Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" overcame a turbulent production history, mixed reviews and a nearly three-hour length to open strong. The $37-million-plus gross included some $13 million from midnight shows: about one million people on a December weeknight attended the first late night showings across the country. Simultaneous international openings suggest similar global reaction, leading to a strong head wind for the expensive production heading into Christmas.
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Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'
Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey'

As expected, Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" overcame a turbulent production history, mixed reviews and a nearly three-hour length to open strong. The $37-million-plus gross included some $13 million from midnight shows: about one million people on a December weeknight attended the first late night showings across the country. Simultaneous international openings suggest similar global reaction, leading to a strong head wind for the expensive production heading into Christmas.

While very good, the gross suggests that it might not ascend the heights of previous pre-Christmas December openings such as "Avatar" or "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." The latter opened on a Wednesday, with lower ticket prices and without the boost of 3-D and other supplemental charges that "The Hobbit" enjoys, and at $34.5 million, sold substantially more tickets on its way to a first five-day gross of $124 million. "Avatar," at slightly lower ticket prices--with the same 3-D boost and about 600 fewer screens-- did $26.7 its opening day (also a Friday). The comparison of first Saturday among these films will better determine how strong this film is.

No other new opening attempted to challenge "The Hobbit"; the rest of the line-up consists of holdovers. Among the top ten films, "The Hobbit" actually did more than 80% of the business. But despite the competition and the usual pre-Christmas doldrums, three holdovers enjoyed better-than-usual holds. "Lincoln" fell only a little more than 20% and has already passed $100 million. "The Life of Pi" and "The Rise of the Guardians" both fell around a third, which helps position them for competing for continuing through the holidays in many theaters. The rest dropped between 40 and 50% for the day,more in line for the season.

The Top Ten for Friday in millions:

1) "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Warner Bros.) - $37.5

2) "Lincoln" (Buena Vista) - $1.9

3) "Skyfall" (Sony) - $1.9

4) "The Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount) - $1.5

5) "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" (Lionsgate) - $1.5

6) The Life of Pi (20th Century-Fox) - $1.4

7) "Playing for Keeps" (FilmDistrict) - $1.0

8) "Wreck-It Ralph" (Buena Vista) - $.7

9) "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) - $.7

10) "Silver Linings Playbook" (Weinstein) - $.6

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office, Lincoln, 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.