The second installment in the 3D "Hobbit" film trilogy earned
$73.7 million of its global haul in the United States and
Canada, where it easily topped weekend movie charts.
Walt Disney Co's animated fairy tale "Frozen" took the No. 2
spot, selling $22.2 million worth of tickets from Friday through
Sunday, according to studio estimates from Rentrak, beating new
comedy "Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas" which was third with
"The Hobbit" grossed $131.2 million in 49 international markets
from Wednesday, according to distributor Warner Bros.
Fans turned out in force for the second of three movies based on
the 1937 classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel set in the fantasy world
of Middle Earth. The film follows the hobbit Bilbo Baggins and a
band of 13 dwarves on an epic quest that leads them to a clash
with the fire-breathing dragon, Smaug.
While the film missed some pre-weekend projections for a
domestic opening around $80 million and fell short of the first
film's $84.6 million debut a year ago, box office analysts noted
that the "Hobbit" opened in a more competitive marketplace than
did the earlier film.
"The fact that 'The Desolation of Smaug' faced more competition
than 'An Unexpected Journey' is notable," said Jeff Bock, senior
box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., "considering the
original didn't have one film that grossed over $10 million when
it debuted while 'Smaug' faced off against three films that
topped that mark."
Analysts said any shortfall in domestic totals will be offset by
a big international showing. "This second installment is poised
for another run at $1 billion globally," Bock said.
Only 17 films have reached that mark, according to the Box
Office Mojo website, including the first movie, "The Hobbit: An
OVERALL TICKET SALES UP
"Smaug," which cost roughly $250 million to produce, is expected
to help Hollywood finish the year close to or slightly ahead of
its North American (U.S. and Canadian) ticket sales record set
in 2012. Through Sunday, estimated sales for 2013 stood at
$10.16 billion, compared to $10.12 billion at the same point
last year, according to Rentrak.
[to top of second column]
The "Hobbit" films, produced by MGM and Warner
Bros.' New Line Cinema, are prequels to the blockbuster "Lord of the
Rings" franchise that brought in box office gold a decade ago.
Oscar-winning "Rings" filmmaker Peter Jackson also directs the
"Hobbit" films. The final film in the trilogy is scheduled to reach
theaters in December 2014.
Martin Freeman stars in the series as Bilbo Baggins,
and Benedict Cumberbatch voices the dragon Smaug. Cumberbatch also
helped create the movements of the giant reptile through a technique
called motion capture, researching komodo dragons, serpents and bats
to embody Smaug's slithering and flight.
"Smaug" earned more critical acclaim than "An Unexpected Journey."
Among reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website, 74 percent of critics
recommended "Smaug" as of Saturday, compared with 65 percent for the
In "Madea's Christmas," produced for about $25
million, Perry returns for the eighth time to his popular
wise-cracking grandmother Madea role, coaxed into visiting a small
Alabama town where she meets a man played by Larry the Cable Guy.
Two other holiday season hits — "Frozen" and "The Hunger Games:
Catching Fire" — continued to pull in moviegoers.
"Frozen," featuring the voice of Kristen Bell as a Scandinavian
princess, brought its worldwide total to $266 million through
Sunday, Disney said.
Global sales for "Catching Fire," the dystopian thriller starring
Jennifer Lawrence as heroine Katniss Everdeen, earned $13.2 million
domestically for the weekend, claiming the No. 4 spot. Its worldwide
cumulative total climbed to $740 million, eclipsing the total sales
for the first "Hunger Games" movie, according to distributor Lions
Gate Entertainment Corp.
Disney's Marvel superhero sequel "Thor: The Dark World" came in a
distant fifth for the weekend with $2.7 million.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Chris
[© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2013 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.