The Hobbit Hammers December Record
By John Hamann
December 16, 2012
The rest of the weekend followed expectations. The Saturday gross was $28.2 million, up from the "true" Friday gross of $24.5 million by 15%. The weekend was closed out with a $19.1 million gross on Sunday, for a three-day take of $84.8 million. That’s enough to beat I Am Legend’s December weekend record of $77.2 million, and trounces Return of the King’s $72.7 million Friday-to-Sunday gross. Keep in mind, though, that if Return of the King opened on a Friday, that number would have been much, much higher. Released to 4,045 venues, The Hobbit had a venue average of $20,958, and a weekend multiplier of 3.46 once the Thursday night grosses are stripped out. There is nothing here for the producers of The Hobbit to be upset about, or particularly overjoyed about either. This is simply December at the box office.
The big question this morning is where does The Hobbit go from here? Return of the King earned $124.1 million over its first five days, and went on to take in $377 million domestically. The first Rings film showed true legs, though, debuting to $75.1 million over five days, and turning that opening into $313 million. I see The Hobbit as a mix of those two results, likely with poorer legs than the original, but propped up by a higher opening weekend. The cost to bring The Hobbit to the screen is $250 million (some say $270 million), an amount it should have no problem earning domestically. It will then likely earn a half-billion overseas, but it will earn less than the last Lord of the Rings movie, as The Hobbit cost $175 million more to make than Return of the King did. For now, things are happy in Hobbit Land, but audiences could turn on these films if the quality doesn’t remain.
There were other films in release this weekend, and it was a very close race between Rise of the Guardians, Lincoln and last weekend’s winner, the now six-weekend-old Skyfall. In the end, second spot goes to Rise of the Guardians, the four-weekend-old holiday-themed picture. Rise of the Guardians earned $7.4 million. Since opening to $23.7 million on Thanksgiving, it has seen drops of 44%, 22% and now 29%. Paramount’s expensive $145 million gamble may lift a bit next weekend, but there is no way it matches its production budget stateside. Its domestic total currently sits at $71.4 million. The good news for Paramount is that Rise of the Guardians has earned an additional $100 million overseas, so if they are lucky, it will end up as a push for the studio.
Lincoln, which was nominated for seven Golden Globes this week, places third. The Buena Vista release actually had a better hold than the holiday themed Rise of the Guardians, as it earned $7.2 million and fell a scant 19%. Those Golden Globe nominations and a raft of other critical awards helped push Lincoln over the $100 million mark on Friday night, and it now sits with $107.9 million. There seem to be about a dozen films aimed at older audiences released between now and the New Year. Should any of those slip up (I’m looking at you, The Guilt Trip), Lincoln will quickly fill that void.