The Twelve Days of Box Office: Day Two
Weekend Wrap-Up: One Hobbit to Rule the Holidays
By John Hamann
December 23, 2012
Uh-oh. Hollywood is getting a lump of coal in its stocking, unless Quentin Tarantino or Victor Hugo can save Christmas.
In 2007, Christmas was also on a Tuesday, and the weekend before Santa’s arrival brought five new films, with three expanding. This weekend, five new films also open, but the same weekend five years ago will make this weekend look like the Grinch - and this weekend has The Hobbit on its side. In 2007, National Treasure: Book of Secrets was the big film – not Hobbit sized, but a sequel to a solid earner, and the weekend also offered Sweeney Todd, P.S. I Love You, Charlie Wilson’s War, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Titles other than National Treasure 2 opened to an average of $7.4 million, but it was still enough to keep the top 12 strong, as the group earned $152.1 million.
This weekend, the big film for Christmas was launched last weekend in the form of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It took in a strong $84.6 million, setting the record for a December release. Films opening this weekend included Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise, This is 40 from Judd Apatow, The Guilt Trip with Seth Rogen and Babs, Monsters, Inc., a greedy Disney cash in (you know, for Christmas!), and Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away, which looks caught somewhere between the theatre and the movie screen. These titles seem to have enough star power to beat the group from 2007, but sadly, it’s certainly not the case, and on top of that, The Hobbit is caving in. Happy Christmas, everyone!
So, our number one film of the weekend is The Hobbit, and had it dropped 20% this weekend, it would have earned about $68 million, but that didn’t happen. A 40% drop would have served up a $50 million gross this weekend, but that didn’t happen either. In reality, the bottom has fallen out of this Hobbit, and the second-weekend gross of one of the most anticipated films of the year comes in at only $36.7 million, and serves up a questionable second weekend drop of 57%. When your film cost $270 million to make, you now say "ouch." On the other hand, we must remember that $13 million of last weekend’s Hobbit Haul came from midnights, so the number we are really looking at from last weekend is more like $72 million, which makes the drop less bad.
Still, the Lord of the Rings films didn’t decline like this, but they were all released a weekend after The Hobbit was, so their second weekend was usually Christmas weekend, which would drastically improve their weekend-to-weekend performance. Fellowship of the Ring dropped 18% from $47.2 million to $38.7 million, Two Towers dropped 21% from $62 million to $48.9 million and Return of the King dropped 30% from $72.6 million to $50.6 million. The real thing to watch here is the gross to date, as timing the opening weekend date is a very important factor. After two weekends, both Two Towers and Return of the King had earned more than $200 million. After two weekends of The Hobbit, the Peter Jackson spectacular has earned $149.9 million, and will need to power through the next 12 Days of Box Office if it wants to be compared with the Lord of the Rings films.