'The Desolation of Smaug' and 'Frozen' Hold off All Newcomers over Christmas Weekend

on December 29, 2013 by Daniel Garris

In a weekend with five new wide releases, holiday holdovers Warner's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Disney's Frozen led the way in a close two-way race for first. After trailing Frozen slightly on Friday, The Desolation of Smaug ultimately placed in first for the weekend with an estimated $29.85 million. The Desolation of Smaug has topped the box office for three consecutive weekends and was down just 5 percent from last weekend. In comparison, last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fell 13.5 percent in its third weekend to gross $31.93 million. With a solid 17-day take of $190.30 million, The Desolation of Smaug is currently running 14 percent behind the $221.63 million 17-day take of An Unexpected Journey.

Frozen held up especially well over Christmas weekend with an estimated second place take of $28.85 million. The 3D computer animated blockbuster from Walt Disney Animation increased 47 percent over last weekend's performance. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Frozen claimed the third largest performance ever for a film in its fifth weekend of wide release (behind only Avatar and Titanic). Frozen continues to be helped out by a combination of strong word of mouth and the overall lack of competition for family audiences this holiday season. Frozen has grossed $248.37 million to date, which currently ranks the film as the seventh highest grossing release of 2013.

Two more holdovers found themselves in a close race for third place this weekend, with Paramount's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues just edging out Sony's American Hustle. Anchorman 2 was down 23 percent from last weekend to take in an estimated $20.15 million, while American Hustle was up 2 percent over last weekend to gross an estimated $19.55 million. With respective current total grosses of $83.67 million and $60.04 million, Anchorman 2 has out-grossed American Hustle by $23.63 million so far, but going forward American Hustle should cut into that gap thanks in part to continued awards season buzz. Anchorman 2 is currently running 18 percent behind the $102.58 million twelve-day take of 2010's Little Fockers, while American Hustle is running a very impressive 125 percent ahead of the $26.66 million take of 2010's The Fighter after ten days of wide release.

The weekend's highest grossing new release was Paramount's The Wolf of Wall Street. The Martin Scorsese directed awards season hopeful starring Leonardo DiCaprio placed in fifth with an estimated $18.51 million and has grossed $34.30 million through five days of release. That gave The Wolf of Wall Street a five-day to three-day ratio of 1.85 to 1, which actually represented a less initially front-loaded performance than those of both The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and 47 Ronin (despite the fact The Wolf of Wall Street received a troubling C rating on CinemaScore). It is also possible that The Wolf of Wall Street held up relatively better over the weekend due in part to the film not being the most ideal Christmas Day option for some moviegoers interested in the film.

All four of this weekend's major releases were especially front-loaded towards their opening day performances on Christmas Day. At this point it remains to be seen whether the initial collective front-loading for this weekend's new releases is a sign of lackluster holding power going forward or more a result of Christmas Day performances being inflated for all or some of the four to begin with. Next weekend's respective holds will help answer that question for each of the four films.

Fox's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty debuted in seventh place with an estimated $13.0 million. The Ben Stiller directed remake starring Stiller and Kristen Wiig has grossed $25.59 million in its first five days, which was on the low end of pre-release expectations and places the film's five-day to three-day ratio at 1.97 to 1. With so many other films currently aimed at adult moviegoers, Walter Mitty found itself lost within the middle of the pack, especially as the five-day frame went on. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty received a solid B+ rating on CinemaScore and will hope to stabilize going forward.

Universal's 47 Ronin debuted in ninth with an estimated $9.87 million. The expensive action-adventure film starring Keanu Reeves had performed stronger than expected on Christmas Day, but came back down to Earth as soon as Thursday arrived. With a five-day start of $20.57 million, 47 Ronin had a five-day to three-day ratio of 2.08 to 1, which represented the most front-loaded performance of the weekend's four major new releases. While 47 Ronin opened on the low end of its modest expectations, the film is performing very poorly with its large price-tag in mind. 47 Ronin received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.

Warner's Grudge Match debuted all the way down in eleventh with a lackluster estimated weekend take of $7.31 million. The boxing comedy starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone has grossed just $13.44 million in five days. That was below expectations and gave the film a five-day to three-day ratio of 1.84 to 1. With so many other choices this weekend, audiences ultimately weren't interested in the nostalgia offered by Grudge Match. Like Walter Mitty and 47 Ronin, Grudge Match also received a B+ rating on CinemaScore.

Disney's Saving Mr. Banks held up very nicely this weekend, especially considering all the new direct competition it faced. The awards season hopeful starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks was up 50 percent over last weekend to place in sixth this weekend with an estimated $14.02 million. Saving Mr. Banks has grossed a solid $37.84 million after ten days of wide release and will have a strong chance of continuing to hold up well going forward thanks to strong word of mouth and from skewing heavily towards older moviegoers.

Tags: Saving Mr. Banks, Grudge Match, 47 Ronin, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Frozen, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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