Overall, it was a very good weekend at the box office—the Top 12 earned $137.3 million, which is up a whopping 37 percent from the same weekend last year. Unless all five Christmas Day releases bomb, the 2013 box office is now guaranteed to top last year's $10.84 billion record.
In its second weekend in theaters, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug added an estimated $31.4 million. That's off 57 percent from last weekend, which is identical to the first Hobbit's drop at the same point. Smaug has so far earned $127.5 million, which is off 15 percent from the first movie's pace.
Playing at 3,507 locations, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues opened to $26.8 million this weekend. That's below the first Anchorman's $28.4 million debut, though it's not an apples-to-apples comparison: Anchorman 2 burned off some demand with a Wednesday start, and opening weekends in December are historically much lower than those in July (when the first movie opened).
For the five-day frame, Anchorman 2 earned an estimated $40 million. Both of the Meet the Parents sequels also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas—Meet the Fockers brought in $70.5 million, while Little Fockers earned $45.1 million.
Anchorman's opening was generally in line with Paramount's expectations, though it does seem like the movie should have done a bit better. It definitely wasn't an awareness problem: thanks to relentless, unavoidable marketing, the average moviegoer absolutely knew that the Channel 4 news team was back on the big screen this weekend.
Instead, the slightly underwhelming debut can be chalked up to a few factors. First, the fanbase for the original probably isn't as broad as originally thought: the audience this weekend was 62 percent male, which is an unusually high number for a comedy. Also, while there were plenty of advertisements, they relied too heavily on a few jokes (in particular, Brick with the green screen was used ad nauseum).
It's important to remember that movies that open on the weekends before Christmas tend to have lower-than-expected openings before playing well through the holidays. Even with a disappointing "B" CinemaScore, it's still possible that Anchorman 2 hangs on well over the next two weeks, and a final total north of $120 million is likely.
In its fourth weekend, Disney Animation's Frozen eased 15 percent to $19.5 million, which is more than newcomers Saving Mr. Banks and Walking with Dinosaurs earned combined. Frozen has now grossed $191.6 million, which is ahead of Wreck-It Ralph ($189.4 million) and only a bit behind Tangled ($200.8 million). It now looks like Frozen will be the go-to movie for family audiences over the holiday season, and it could be on its way to over $300 million by the end of its run.
After a week in limited release, David O. Russell's star-studded ABSCAM movie American Hustle expanded to 2,507 locations and earned a fantastic $19.1 million. In comparison, Russell's The Fighter took in $12.1 million when it expanded on the same weekend in 2010. With a handful of Oscar nominations on the way, it's a foregone conclusion that this closes north of $100 million.
Saving Mr. Banks also expanded nationwide, though it only mustered $9.3 million from 2,110 locations. That's worse than Charlie Wilson's War ($9.7 million), which opened on the same weekend in 2007 and also had Tom Hanks portraying a historical figure. With an "A" CinemaScore and an audience of older women (57 percent female, 61 percent 35 years of age and up), Banks should hold better than Charlie Wilson ($66.7 million), though $100 million is now out of the question.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has now earned $371.8 million, which ranks second in 2013 ahead of Despicable Me 2 ($367.5 million). The blockbuster sequel remains on pace to earn over $400 million by the end of its run.
In eighth place, Walking with Dinosaurs opened to a very poor $7.3 million. That's less than half of Yogi Bear's debut at the same time in 2010. Dinosaurs will be a solid choice for families over the Christmas holiday, though it's unlikely it earns much more than $50 million or so.
At just 236 locations, Dhoom 3 set a new Bollywood record with $3.3 million. While Bollywood movies tend to be very front-loaded, there's a chance that the holidays help Dhoom 3 ultimately get past $10 million.
Spike Jonze's Her (2013) opened at six theaters this weekend and earned a solid $258,000. That translates to a $43,000 per-theater average. The well-reviewed sci-fi romance expands in to 47 locations on Christmas Day, and is expected to go nationwide on January 10th.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug once again dominated the overseas box office this weekend. The movie fell 43 percent to $96 million, and has so far earned $276.3 million. According to Warner Bros., that's on par with An Unexpected Journey across the same bucket of territories.
The Hobbit's only major new market was Russia, where it set a Warner Bros. opening weekend record with $18.8 million. The movie expands in to Australia on Thursday, then reaches China and Japan in February.
Already a sensation at the domestic box office, Frozen also looks poised to be a huge hit overseas. The Disney Animation flick added $35.1 million this weekend for a new total of $152.6 million—and its only playing in 61 percent of the international marketplace. It had strong start in Mexico ($5.5 million) and Italy ($2.9 million), both of which were ahead of similar movie Tangled.
Coinciding with its disappointing domestic debut, Walking with Dinosaurs opened to $13.6 million from 40 foreign markets. Its top territory was the U.K., where it brought in a decent $1.6 million.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues debuted to $13.4 million in six foreign markets. In comparison, the original Anchorman only made $5.3 million in its entire international run. The movie had a strong $7.4 million five-day start in the U.K., and also did well in Australia ($5.2 million).
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire added $11 million for a new total of $393.6 million. It reaches its final foreign market (Japan) next Saturday.
Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.
• Great Odin's Raven! 'Anchorman 2' Set for Strong Start
• 'Smaug' Sets Fire to Box Office, Misses First 'Hobbit's Mark
This Weekend in Past Years:
• 2012 - 'Hobbit' Plummets, Holds Off Slew of Newcomers
• 2011 - 'M:I-4' Sizzles Over Solid Christmas Weekend
• 2010 - 'Fockers' Fester, 'Grit' Has Gumption
• 2009 - Christmas Booms with 'Avatar,' 'Sherlock,' 'Alvin'
• 2008 - 'Marley' Retrieves Box Office Luster Over Christmas
• 2007 - 'National Treasure' Leads Christmas Rush
• 2005 - 'King Kong' Clings to Christmas Top Spot Over 'Chronicles'
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time: December Openings