The 12 Days of Box Office: Friday Box Office Analysis

By Kim Hollis

December 21, 2013

These are not the wolves of Wall Street.

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Ron Burgundy and all his friends returned to theaters this weekend. With a deluge of unavoidable marketing, would audiences be ready for more after a nine-year absence from the box office, or would over-saturation cause people to be sick of Anchorman 2 before it even got going?

In the end, that answer seems to be a bit mixed. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is looking for a three-day weekend either similar to or lower than the first film (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) achieved back in 2004. Of course, that result is impacted by the fact that it opened on Wednesday rather than Friday, and amassed $13.2 million in its first two days. It's also in first place for Friday, although it's going to lose that position by the end of the weekend.

Anchorman 2 earned $8.7 million yesterday, a solid number that's going to put the film right about in the middle of the range of expectations from the studio. Even better, it should be able to take advantage of a very lucrative holiday period, as reviews are mostly positive. The sequel is certainly a film that will please fans of the original (and confound people who are not familiar with it at all). Since it did open on Wednesday, Anchorman 2 will not be as impacted by fanboy rush as it would have been if its first day had been yesterday. It's been more than 10 years since the calendar last saw the same configuration that we have this weekend, and back then we had The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opening on a Wednesday in 2002. It's also a film that should have had fanboy rush, but its weekend multiplier was actually a 3.0. We should see something similar for Ron Burgundy and Co., which would give the film a three-day total of $26.1 million and a five-day total of $39.3. The studio might estimate the weekend a little higher just to get that nice, tight $40 million five-day total.

American Hustle, which absolutely killed it in limited release last weekend, went wide to 2,507 locations this week and is reaping the benefits. The awards bait film, which reunites Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell (along with Christian Bale and Amy Adams) earned $6.3 million, an outstanding result and gets the film's Oscar candidacy off to a stellar start. We also have a nice comparison from 2002 for this release, which is Gangs of New York. It had a 3.3 multiplier from Friday-to-Sunday, and American Hustle should follow a similar trajectory (if not better, given the word-of-mouth and extreme interest). Give it a weekend total of $21 million.


Another awards contender came in a bit lower than expected, though perhaps that's because people are a little confused as to why a film involving Mary Poppins would be rated PG-13. Saving Mr. Banks, featuring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, earned $2.96 million yesterday. Given its potential as an Oscar hopeful and more family-friendly subject matter, it should also have a fine multiplier for the weekend, which means we're looking at a $9.7 million weekend. Disney might just go ahead and take that estimate up to $10 million since double digits looks better.

Finally, we have Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, which might have taken The Simpsons' Milhouse Van Houten a little too seriously when he said, "Those aren't dinosaurs! Dinosaurs sing!" The original documentary series for Walking With Dinosaurs was realistic, recreating the Mesozoic period in educational fashion. It was one of the most expensive documentaries ever created, and is considered one of the greatest British series ever. Thus, it's puzzling that the animated feature film would be dumbed down to feature talking dinosaurs, unless Fox was just bored of counting all their Ice Age money. Anyway, it earned just $2.1 million yesterday, and is looking at a forgettable weekend of $8 million.

An unexpected new entry in the top 10 is Dhoom 3, a Hindi action film. It's further proof that films that target niche audiences are finding people. It earned just over $1 million and should finish the weekend with $2.6 million.

The weekend's top film will once again be The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which just barely finished behind Anchorman 2 with $8.6 million. Since it's in its second weekend of release, it's looking at a higher multiplier, so its weekend total should be right around $29.8 million. The studio might just go ahead and round that up to $30 million since it looks just a bit better to finish above that amount.

Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion had the typical precipitous fall from Friday-to-Friday that we see for his films, which is probably not the greatest news for the future of this character. It earned $2.4 million yesterday and should come in with around $7.7 million for the weekend.

Projected Estimates for the Top Ten (Three-Day)
Estimated Gross
1 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 30.0
2 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues 26.1
3 American Hustle 21.0
4 Frozen 19.2
5 Saving Mr. Banks 10.0
6 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 9.2
7 Walking With Dinosaurs 8.0
8 Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas 7.7
9 Dhoom 3 2.6
10 Thor: The Dark World 1.3



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