This year, Santa delivered five new nationwide releases on Christmas Day. By the weekend, though, audiences had turned their attention back to blockbuster holdovers The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Frozen.
With a diverse set of options, overall business was strong on the final weekend of 2013: the Top 12 earned $185.8 million, which is up 13 percent from the same frame last year.
The second Hobbit movie took first place for the third-straight weekend—the only other movie to accomplish this feat in 2013 was fellow Warner Bros. release Gravity. The Hobbit added $29.9 million, which is off seven percent from the first Hobbit on the same weekend last year. The Desolation of Smaug has now earned over $190 million, and remains on pace for a final tally north of $250 million.
Disney Animation's Frozen continues to exceed even the most optimistic expectations. The animated sensation increased 47 percent to $28.8 million; among fifth weekends, that figure ranks third all-time behind Avatar ($42.8 million) and Titanic ($30 million). The movie is benefiting not only from great word-of-mouth, but also from a void of legitimate family entertainment—Saving Mr. Banks turned out to be too mature, while Walking with Dinosaurs never really clicked with audiences.
Among 2013 releases, Frozen now ranks seventh with $248.4 million. It's also now guaranteed to close with over $300 million. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues took third place with $20.2 million. Through 12 days, the comedy sequel has earned $83.7 million, and it will pass the original movie's $85.3 million total in a day or two.
David O. Russell's American Hustle held on to fourth place with an estimated $19.6 million. So far, the star-studded 70s caper has earned $60 million; with plenty of awards recognition still to come, Hustle should have no problem getting to $100 million.
Among the Christmas Day releases, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street led the pack with $18.5 million ($34.3 million five-day). That's noticeably lower than last year's Django Unchained ($30.1 million), which was also a very long, controversial movie from a popular director (and also featured Leonardo DiCaprio!). Django did have a much more appealing story, though, and for a three-hour movie about corrupt, drug-addled Wall Street bankers, it's hard to imagine a significantly higher debut. Wolf's audience was 54 percent male, and a whopping 90 percent were 25 years of age or older. They awarded it a terrible "C" CinemaScore; on the surface, that suggests the movie will burn out quickly, though the controversy about the movie's borderline pornographic content could spur some interest. If Wolf also garners a handful of Oscar nominations, it could theoretically flirt with $100 million before the end of its run.
After a slow start last weekend, Saving Mr. Banks saved some face this weekend by improving 50 percent to $14 million. Through 10 days, Banks has earned a decent $37.8 million. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opened in seventh place with $13 million ($25.6 million five-day). For star Ben Stiller, that's miles away from movies like Night at the Museum and the Meet the Parents sequels, and is also arguably worse than recent comedy Tower Heist ($24 million). Mitty's audience was 52 percent female, and 64 percent were over the age of 25. They awarded it a "B+" CinemaScore, and it should play well through the next few weeks. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has now earned $391.1 million. With another week of holidays, it appears to be on pace to top Iron Man 3 ($409 million) and the original Hunger Games ($408 million).
A handful of new releases bombed pretty hard this weekend. Universal's long-delayed mega-budget samurai movie 47 Ronin earned just $9.9 million ($20.6 million five-day). It received a solid "B+" CinemaScore, though its pattern suggests that it will be very front-loaded (it would be surprising if it made it past $50 million). Ronin isn't doing particularly well overseas either, and Universal is expected to lose a ton of money on this (some reports have it as high as $175 million). Don't cry for Universal, though—to this point, they've had a banner year thanks to major hits like Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6. Grudge Match was the biggest surprise of the weekend—and not in a good way. The Robert DeNiro/Sylvester Stallone boxing comedy took in just $7.3 million ($13.4 million five-day), which caps a rough year for the two geriatric stars. Audiences clearly weren't interested in seeing a reheated version of Rocky and Raging Bull. Those that did give it a chance were 55 percent male and 68 percent were 25 years of age or older, and they gave it a "B+" CinemaScore.
Pop star Justin Bieber was back on the big-screen this weekend with Believe, the follow-up to massively-successful 2011 documentary Never Say Never. Unfortunately, Bieber's fans didn't show up this time, and the movie debuted in 14th place with an abysmal $2 million ($4.3 million five-day). In comparison, Never Say Never opened to $28.8 million. While this opening does prove that Bieber's fans are less engaged now than they were three years ago, it's also a result of light marketing and a fairly modest release (only 1,037 locations).
Biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom expanded to 975 locations and took 13th place with $2.4 million. Considering how timely the movie is—and how aggressively The Weinstein Company marketed it—that's not a particularly good debut. Unless it pulls some surprise Oscar nominations (unlikely, given how competitive the field is) Mandela is unlikely to find a substantial theatrical audience in the U.S.
At five locations, August: Osage County opened to $179,500 ($35,900 average). Meanwhile, Lone Survivor debuted to $92,500 from two theaters ($155,400 five-day). Both titles will expand nationwide in January. Around-the-World Roundup
On its third weekend in theaters, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug added $98.3 million overseas. Its only new market was Australia, where it debuted to a strong $12.8 million (down six percent from the first Hobbit). To date, its earned $423.8 million; according to Warner Bros., that's on par with the first movie across the same bucket of territories. The Hobbit will essentially wrap up its run in existing markets before reaching China and Japan in late February. Frozen earned $50.5 million, which makes this its strongest weekend yet at the foreign box office. It opened to a solid $5.8 million in Australia, and still has Brazil, Japan and China on the way. To date, Frozen has earned $243.5 million overseas, and will pass $500 million worldwide on Monday.
Coinciding with its domestic debut, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opened to $27.2 million in 39 overseas markets. Its top market was Italy ($5 million), though it was also solid in the U.K. ($3.8 million), Australia ($3.1 million), Spain ($3.1 million), Mexico ($2.5 million) and Brazil ($2.2 million). 47 Ronin added $13.8 million this weekend for a new total of $22.3 million. It opened in first place in a handful of smaller Asian markets, but only managed a fifth place debut in the U.K. ($2.3 million). Walking with Dinosaurs grossed $12.3 million this weekend, most of which was from holdover markets. To date, the CGI dinosaur movie has banked $33.4 million.