For a third consecutive frame, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey led the North American box office but this time was joined by a trio of new releases opening on Christmas Day which filled up the next spots on the charts over a red hot final weekend of 2012.
Smashing through the $200M barrier, The Hobbit collected an estimated $32.9M in its third journey pushing the 17-day cume up to a sizable $222.7M. Warner Bros. enjoyed a slim 11% decline and fared very well during this past Christmas week. Finishing with $290M seems very likely while reaching the $300M mark remains a possibility as well. Hobbit should surpass $700M globally before the start of 2013.
Quentin Tarantino enjoyed the biggest debut of his career with his latest film Django Unchained which took in an estimated $30.7M over the weekend and a superb $64M in the six days since its Christmas Day launch on Tuesday. That’s already bigger than his old career best opening week (first seven days) of $53.7M for his last film Inglourious Basterds which debuted on a summer Friday in 2009.
The slave Western starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio averaged a strong $10,195 from 3,010 locations making for the best average of any wide release. That is especially impressive for an R-rated film that runs nearly three hours long. Controversy related to Django’s language and violence resulted in extra press coverage and more buzz and multiplexes enjoyed the benefits.
The Weinstein Co. is positioning the revenge film as both an awards contender and a commercial blockbuster and so far is succeeding on both fronts. Reviews have been very positive and the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A-. Django Unchained already seems on track to beat the $120.5M of Basterds to become Tarantino’s highest grossing film ever.
Finishing close behind in third place was the acclaimed musical Les Miserables with an estimated $28M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a sturdy $67.4M since its Christmas launch. The Universal release averaged a terrific $9,960 from only 2,814 locations and is aiming for a long run ahead thanks to excellent word-of-mouth and upcoming awards activity including Oscar nominations and Golden Globe wins which are expected.
The Hugh Jackman-led film started off with the second best Christmas Day opening in history with $18.2M on Tuesday trailing only the $24.6M Friday of Sherlock Holmes in 2009. Compared to Django, Les Miserables has seen more erosion over the six-day launch period. But since it is based on a world-famous musical, the run was expected to have a big upfront showing of die-hard fans. Studio exit polls showed that the audience was 67% female with the overall CinemaScore being a glowing A grade.
Produced for $61M, the PG-13 film enjoyed international success too with $38.3M this weekend from only eight markets, mostly in the Pacific Rim, for a $48.7M cume and $116.2M worldwide total so far with plenty more to come. Korea accounts for nearly half of the overseas tally with a sensational $20.1M beating the opening of The Hobbit.
Opening in fourth place was the Billy Crystal-Bette Midler family comedy Parental Guidance with $14.8M and $29.6M since its Christmas Day bow. The PG-rated pic about grandparents having to care for their modern grandkids averaged a moderate $4,396 over the weekend period. With few clean options this holiday season that the whole family can enjoy together, Guidance connected with its target audience and will now try to keep it going through January when direct competition will still be light. Fox’s $25M production played to a crowd that was 52% female and 55% over 25. Reviews were lousy.
Tom Cruise dropped down to fifth place with his latest action entry Jack Reacher which dipped a reasonable 10% to an estimated $14M pushing the ten-day total up to $44.7M for Paramount. Judd Apatow’s new comedy This is 40 climbed up 14% from last weekend and grossed an estimated $13.2M for a ten-day take of $37.1M. The Paul Rudd-Leslie Mann pic picked up steam after Christmas once its target audience became more available, however the Universal title still sits far behind the $65.9M that Knocked Up grossed in its first ten days in 2007.
Moviegoers with extra time on their hands caught up with one of the hottest Oscar hopefuls out there, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. The Daniel Day-Lewis starrer surged 36% from last weekend – the best jump in the top ten – and took in an estimated $7.5M bumping the cume up to a sturdy $132M for Disney. The Republican president has been cleaning up at the box office and has plenty of firepower left especially with the expected boatload of Oscar nominations coming in less than two weeks. Lincoln is now the top-grossing drama of 2012. Another older-skewing film that saw sales climb from last weekend was the Barbra Streisand comedy The Guilt Trip which banked an estimated $6.7M, up 24% from its disappointing debut. The Paramount title has collected only $21.1M in 12 days.
Animated films rounded out the top ten. Disney’s 3D re-release of Monsters, Inc. shot up 33% and grossed an estimated $6.4M for $18.5M after 12 days. The Pixar hit’s lifetime total now stands at $274.4M. Rival DreamWorks Animation suffered a 17% decline for its holiday adventure Rise of the Guardians which did an estimated $4.9M upping the cume to $90.2M. Studios missed out on a major opportunity by not releasing any major new toons this Christmas.
The James Bond cash cow Skyfall fell from the top ten in its eighth round, however it reached a key milestone by breaking the $1 billion barrier in worldwide box office. Sony’s spy actioner captured an estimated $4.6M domestically, off a scant 2%, raising its sum to an incredible $289.6M. Overseas, Daniel Craig and company took in $10.3M boosting the hefty international tally to $710.6M and the worldwide haul to a cool $1B. In the U.K, Skyfall has become the top-grossing film of all-time and the first blockbuster ever to cross the £100M mark.
The Weinstein Co. went fully nationwide with its awards contender Silver Linings Playbook widening the seven-week old comedy from 371 to 745 locations and made an estimated $4.1M for a $5,517 average – commendable for a film this old. The average was higher than last weekend’s despite the expansion which indicates that audiences are still interested in the Bradley Cooper-Jennifer Lawrence pic regardless of the flood of other Oscar hopefuls out there. Cume to date is $27.4M.
The acclaimed Osama bin Laden manhunt pic Zero Dark Thirty suffered a 23% drop from its red hot debut last weekend which was unusual for a holiday frame when moviegoers are more available. Still, Sony’s Kathryn Bigelow-directed thriller averaged a sensational $63,000 from only five theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Zero expands to more cities on Friday including San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston and goes nationwide on January 11, one day after Oscar nominations are announced.
Lacking awards buzz, Matt Damon’s new film Promised Land attracted a mild debut in limited release grossing an estimated $190,150 from 25 locations for a $7,606 average. Focus plans to expand nationwide on Friday into an aggressive 1,500 theaters which will be challenging given the opening weekend performance and the fact that rival arthouse pic The Impossible – which has earned better reviews and stronger box office – also goes wide on the same day. Reviews have been mixed for Promised Land.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $159.1M which was up 18% from last year when Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was number one with $29.4M; and up 16% from 2010 when Little Fockers remained in the top spot with $25.8M.