8th UPDATE, MONDAY PM:  Here are today’s final Top 10 studio-reported actuals for the December 20-22 box office frame, courtesy of Rentrak. Paramount Pictures is the only studio to report estimates to Rentrak on Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Go figure. Disney’s Frozen did slip past Sony’s American Hustle to take the No. 3 spot with $19.6M (see below). Sony is reporting $19.0M, down from an over-estimation. Yes, Paramount wasn’t alone, but at least the other distribs thought Hustle could be higher, too. The Christmas crunch comes on Wednesday. Final numbers (except for Paramount estimate on Anchorman 2). See the full Top 20 at the bottom of the file.

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug,BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x206__131207011855 Warner Bros., $31,505,278, 3,928 locations, $8,021 average, $127,550,695, Week 2.

2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Paramount, $26,234,000, 3,507 locations, $7,480 average, $39,457,000, Week 1. (ESTIMATE)

3. Frozen, Disney, $19,642,107, 3,540 locations, $5,549 average, $192,034,117, Week 5.

4. American Hustle, Sony, $17,901,068, 2,507 locations, $7,140 average, $19,014,436, Week 2.

5. Saving Mr. Banks, Disney, $9,344,381, 2,110 locations, $4,429 average, $9,969,867, Week 2.

6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $8,764,479, 2,949 locations, $2,972 average, $371,718,275, Week 5.

7. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Lionsgate, $8,384,980, 2,194 locations, $3,822 average, $28,155,257, Week 2.

8. Walking With Dinosaurs, 20th Century Fox, $7,091,938, 3,231 locations, $2,195 average, $7,091,938, Week 1.

9. Dhoom 3, Yash Raj Films, $3,152,590, 239 locations, $13,191 average, $3,422,590, Week 1.

10. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $1,341,763, 1,116 locations, $1,202 average, $200,779,871, Week 7.

OPENING: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Paramount, wide after Wed. opening) Paramount says $40M for 5-day; others estimates well under, and in fact it looks like $39.4M, American Hustle (Sony, wide) great set up for Christmas week, Saving Mr. Banks (Disney, wide) respectable, Walking with Dinosaurs (Fox/Reliance/IMG Global, wide) in the tar pits, Dhoom 3 (Yash Raj Films, ltd) Top Ten surprise and record breaker. Her (WB) is strong and The Past (Sony Pictures Classics) is in the past. NOTEWORTHY: Disney’s Thor: The Dark World goes over $200M mark.

7th UPDATE, MON. 7:45 AM: Paramount finally came to its senses this morning, downgrading its Sunday overstatement that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues would gross $40M for the three-day — an overhype that had everyone rolling their eyes. This morning, it has a new number: $34.2M for the five-day. The Paramount brass ordering up this over-inflated nonsense should take a breath. Still, $34.2M is nothing to sneeze at guys. The sequel took in $26.2M for the three day weekend pre-Christmas.

In addition, when the dust cleared this morning, it appears as though Disney’s Frozen slid passed  Sony’s American Hustle to take 3rd place this weekend.

6TH UPDATE, SUN. 12:00 PM: Analysis: Okay, Paramount let’s get into  it:

anchorman2_r620x349Gotta take Paramount Pictures to task with their inflated estimates for  the five-day estimated gross for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. There’s not a distributor in town who agrees that the five-day number will hit $40M. Other estimates have it at $39.2M, $39.4M and even $39.6M (giving the benefit of the doubt of a smaller than percentage drop-off on Sunday than what is really expected). I know that a $40M number creates a juicy headline, but everyone is saying it won’t get there. It had a B Cinemascore going into the weekend, likely because the last 45 minutes is not said to be as strong as the first 45 minutes. I gotta give props to Will Ferrell for doing everything under the sun to promote this movie. He worked his you-know-what off, and I’m sure it was appreciated. A star who will do anything and everything to promote a movie is a filmmaker’s and studio’s dream. So it’s nothing against him when pointing out that the overhype may have played against it.

FYI: One commenter on this thread named Mr. Majestyk sounds suspiciously like the Paramount exec who contacted me earlier today to note: “Promotional efforts … such as Dodge .. are free to us, so it’s $ we don’t spend … Director Adam McKay talked about this as well: Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy stunts: Worth ‘at least $20 million’ in  free publicity.” Okay, you be the judge. Here’s the commenter: “But did they really spend that much to promote ANCHORMAN 2? As omnipresent as the campaign has been, it seems to be more about web-friendly PR stunts and Dodge Durango ads than big spending on the usual marketing. Adam McKay was quoted as saying he thinks they’ve received at least $20 million in free publicity.

The entire studio seems to be in adrenaline-junky sit and spin mode. Maybe it’s because of their highly-charged Wolf of Wall Street coming into the fold on Wednesday. Wait until middle America (where I was born and raised) and which loves its Duck Dynasty, gets a load of a homosexual orgy scene and the popular Leonardo DiCaprio blowing cocaine into a hooker’s anus through a straw.

Related: ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’: Exhibs Waiting To See How It Plays In Peoria

Disney's FrozenNow, remember this weekend is only the primer for this coming holiday week when the glut of movies will compete for the glut of moviegoers. Christmas falls mid-week (on Wed.) so this box office weekend is only the warm-up. There are six wide releases that will be hitting heads with holdovers and other strong performers.

Two of those strong performers are Disney’s Frozen and Sony’s American Hustle, which are in a nose-to-nose race for the third spot. Both have terrific word-of-mouth. Frozen has the benefit of family day Sunday. No matter who trumps who, doesn’t matter. American Hustle is going into the holiday well prepared. I expect the multiples to be strong and the picture to play for months.

American Hustle“We couldn’t be happier,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony which distributed American Hustle. “We started early in limited runs and then went wide and got such a great shot in the arm with the $19M three-day It has set us up beautifully for Christmas as well as the awards season.”  He’s right. Sony learned its lesson from The Social Network when it was criticized from coming out too early and peaking too soon.

Saving Mr BanksDisney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the lovely film that will likely earn Emma Thompson an Oscar nomination, is one of those that might get a little lift once the female demo comes back into the market pre-holiday shopping ends. One can only hope. There has been some criticism on how it was sold as well. Audiences expecting a fun film will get a mix of heavy drama and light moments. Still a terrific film and would recommend it. (Unless, of course, you are one of those moviegoers who can’t wait to see the debauchery of Wolf of Wall Street.) The film, directed by John Lee Hancock, tells the tale of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) trying to secure the movie rights for Mary Poppins from its stoic author (Thompson); flashbacks explain the initial mystery of  just who Mr. Banks really is.

hobbit-desolation-of-smaug-dragon-5534-hd-widescreen-wallpapersWarner Bros./MGM’s The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug dropped 57% in its second weekend, only 2% more than last year’s Hobbit. So no news there as it will likely do last year’s numbers all told once domestic and international runs are completed. That’s a staggering number: over $1 billion (yes, with a B). “Because Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, it changes the entire environment,” said Warner Bros.’ president of distribution, Dan Fellman. “The year before Christmas was on a Monday. So we had the first Hobbit explode last year even on Christmas Eve, we only dropped 11%. We seemed to be the only family movie out there.”

There are others, but I get what he’s saying and he’s right. The question is how Fox’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which is coming into the marketplace this week and Frozen will hold (and it’s holding superbly). Walking with Dinosaurs is clearly not a threat. In fact, with its small box office take this weekend on a budget that Fox says is $80M (not counting marketing and distrubtion costs), I’ll say it again: The words ‘tarpits’ and ‘extinction’ come to mind. Sorry, guys.

COMING THIS WEEK … CRUNCH TIME: Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount, wide), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Fox, wide), 47 Ronin (Universal, wide), Grudge Match (Warner Bros.’, wide), Justin Bieber’s Believe (Open Road,moderate), The Invisible Woman (Sony Pictures Classics, ltd), August Osage County (The Weinstein Co, ltd).

5TH UPDATE, SUNDAY 9:25 AM: American Hustle and Frozen are battling it out for third place and it is too close to call, with both claiming $19.1M for the three-day. Disney’s/Marvel’s Thor: A Dark World, by all estimates, has surpassed the $200M mark this weekend. Below numbers are best estimates; final numbers come in tomorrow.


1. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (WB/MGM), $31.45M wknd; cume of $127.5M, down 57% in its 2nd weekend. (Saturday added another $12.3M). In 3,928 theaters (+25). The first Hobbit dropped 55%. Given the crunched marketplace with holdovers, not surprising.

2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (PAR), $26.2M to $26.7M to $26.8M wknd; cume of $39.3M to $40M for 5-day. (Sat. added another $9.573 up 10%.) In 3,507 theaters. First weekend. Paramount is reporting the higher number but others report much lower.

3/4. 3 and 4 spots are too close to call. In alphabetical order: American Hustle (SONY) 19.1M wknd; cume of $20.2M (Sat. added another $7.1M for 9% rise.) In 2,507 theaters. Week 2, first weekend wide.

Frozen (DIS), $19.163M; cume $191M to $192M (family day Saturday added another $7.7M to $7.8M.) In 3,540 theaters (-176). Week 5.

5. Saving Mr. Banks (DIS), $9.2M to 9.3M; cume of $9.9M to 10M (added another $3.4M for a 11% rise.) In 2,110 theaters. Week 2, first weekend wide.

6. Hunger Games: Catching Fire (LIONSGATE), $8.5M to $8.75M; cume of $371.5M (Saturday added another $3.4M for a 36% rise.) In 2,949 theaters (-614). Week 5.

7. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (LIONSGATE) ; $8.3M to $8.5M; cume of $28M to $28.1M (Saturday added another $3.4M for a 40% rise.) In 2,194 theaters (0). Week 2. Down 46% wknd to wknd. Lionsgate revised to say $8.5M for a $28.2M estimated 3-day. Others have it lower.

8. Walking With Dinosaurs (FOX) $7.3M (Saturday added another 2.7M to $2.8M for a 29% rise.) Week 1.

9. Thor: The Dark World (DISNEY) $1.3M; cume of $200.7M . In 2,949 theaters (-614). In 1,116 theaters (-1,148). Week 5.

NOTEWORTHY: Dhoom 3 (YASH RAJ FILMS LTD.) $3.3M (Saturday added another $1.290M.) Per screen: $14,004. Week 1.

Her (WB) on 6 screens 3-day tally is 257,815 for a per screen of $42,969; 5-day tally is $361,474 for a per screen of $60,246. Respectable opening for the studio who hopes that the ever-engaging Joaquin Phoenix will be recognized come Oscar nom day.

4TH UPDATE, SATURDAY 7:30 AM: Numbers have been revised with Saving Mr. Banks now in the fifth spot, edging out Hunger Games. American Hustle and Walking With Dinosaurs slightly higher estimates (very slightly). Her and The Past estimated per screens added below. All other numbers pretty much the same as the 12:30 AM estimate.

3RD UPDATE, SATURDAY 12:30 AM: Responding to feedback, I’m going to post numbers up top and do analysis at the end. But to preface, remember this weekend is considered the warm-up before next week’s end of the year box office madness. These are early estimates and numbers will change as the weekend progresses. Here we go:


Anchorman 2Warner Bros./MGM’s The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, took in roughly $8.6M Friday night on 3,928 locales and is expected to gross a little over $30M for the pre-holiday weekend for a cume around $128M.  The question is how much it will drop overall in its second weekend. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, in 3,507 theaters, is walking in with $8.7M to $9M in its first night of the three-day weekend and it looks at the moment to make anywhere between $27M to $29M in its three-day debut and around $41M to $42M for the five-day for Paramount Pictures. But oh, that marketing budget! And the promotions are saturating. Is there anything that Will Ferrell didn’t do? Uh-oh, maybe I shouldn’t have issued the challenge. Disney’s Frozen is still holding strong in its fifth week out, sliding in with a $5M Friday and is expected to gross anywhere in the range of around $21M to $22M this weekend (depending on how high a percentage jump it gets from family weekend) for a total cume of around $190M. It’s in third place and in 3,540 theaters.

23-american-hustleSony’s American Hustle, in its first weekend going wide in 2,507 locations, brought in about $6.3M Friday night and is expected to have a three-day weekend around the $19M to $20M mark. The marketing team at Sony  has cut some great spots and they, like Anchorman 2, are in heavy rotation. Sony noted that the film with a heck of a ensemble cast is now director David O’Russell’s biggest wide release “and almost dead on what Argo did last year.” Comparisons to the Oscar best picture winner … hmm, could it follow the same path? Saving Mr. Banks from Disney – also going wide this weekend – bringing in around $3M Friday and is expected to gross about $9.5M to $10M. The picture, although rated PG-13, seems like the only G-rated film in the marketplace. Given its content, it is truly a lovely movie about a father/daughter relationship which had me in tears having lost my own father recently.


WalkingWithDinosaursLionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which in its fifth week on 2,949 arenas is expected to end the weekend with anywhere between $8.5M to $9.3M; its cume is now around $370M. In sixth place: Tyler Perry’s A Madea’s Christmas, also from Lionsgate, looks to bring in around $8.5M to $8.7M this weekend in 2,194 theaters to push its cume to right around $27M to $29M. The Fox distributed Walking With Dinosaurs is plodding along in 3,231 locales in its first weekend out. The CG animated 3D film pushed in estimated $2M to $2.3M Friday night and is expected to gross only around $8.5M to $9M for the pre-holiday weekend. The Bollywood film Dhoom 3  — which is a Hindi action/thriller and third in a franchise snuck into the top ten this weekend (not unusual for a popular Bollywood film). In 236 theaters, it has a estimated per screen of $14,845. It could gross about $3.5M this weekend. Rounding out the top ten is Thor: The Dark World which could just slip past the $200M in its seventh week. It is expected to pull in another $1.2 to 1.4M in 1,116 theaters.

NOTEWORTHY:  Warner Bros.’ Her,which stars Joaquin Phoenix in a role that the studio hopes gets him an Oscar nom, is expected to do a per screen of about $41,000. On six locations Friday night, the studio said its per screens were $12,037.  Sony Pictures Classics’ The Past on 3 screens looks to make $8,900 per screen for the three day in estimates. Hopefully, the distrib. will do better next weekend with the Ralph Fiennes’ film The Invisible Woman which was a joy to behold the other night. Strong script and Fiennes’ portrayal of the enthusiastic Charles Dickens … well done. This weekend overall looks to be about 20% ahead of last year. Good tidings for all.

Download-Free-kamli-Dhoom3Last year’s Hobbit dropped 55% its second weekend out. This year’s percentage drop may be slightly greater than that, but not by much (as it stands at 7:30 AM Saturday morning). Walking with Dinosaurs has a hefty budget of what those involved with the film say is $80M. Add to that, marketing and distribution costs and a box office take expected to be only $8M to 9M and right now the words ‘tarpits’ and ‘extinction’ come to mind. Will see what happens during the week. Dhoom3 is considered to be one of the most expensive Indian films of all time and is the first Bollywood offering to be filmed for the IMAX format. It now breaks the record for biggest opening day ever for a Bollywood film in North America. Both American Hustle and Saving Mr. Banks have a good chance of reaching maybe $70M to $90M over time.  Looking back historically, P.S. I Love You, which grossed $6.8M the weekend before Christmas, ended up grossing a total of $60M while Sony’s The Fighter opened at $12M and – buoyed by Oscar buzz and wins – ended its run at $90M.  Remember, when Christmas falls mid-week, the previous weekend’s box office fails to be as significant as what it will do during the extended holiday week. But boy do we have a Christmas crunch on its way with five more wide releases knocking into an already crowded market. Think bumper cars.

NEXT WEEK: Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount, wide), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Fox, wide), 47 Ronin (Universal, wide), Grudge Match (Warner Bros.’, wide), Justin Bieber’s Believe (Open Road, moderate), The Invisible Woman (Sony Pictures Classics, ltd), August Osage County (The Weinstein Co, ltd).

2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY 8 AM: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues took in another $5.1M on Thursday for a total 2-day cume of $13.2M. Paramount is still expecting a $30M three-day weekend, although industry analysts are downgrading that estimate to below $30M. Only time will tell as it enters a very packed weekend. It is, however, one of the few comedies in the marketplace now. anchorman-2__131123195832-275x187The promotion its star Will Ferrell has done in pre-release the picture has been significant, everything from a spot for Dodge to speaking on college campuses. This pre-holiday opening weekend for all new pics is just a warm-up for next week. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is doing well this week with another $5M added for a to date cume now of $96M. Expectations are for it to be No. 1 this weekend. American Hustle played strong last night in 2,215 theaters for another $1.1M and Sony is expecting a mid-to-high teen million dollar gross for the three-day.

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: It’s like rush hour in Los Angeles at the nation’s box office this weekend with four more titles merging into the marketplace in wide release on what is The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’s second weekend out.  Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, having opened to a $2.3 million midnight on Tuesday night for a stellar $8M Wednesday total, looks on track for a $40M-$45M five-day opener and a $30M three-day total in 3,4550 theaters. (I will be looking at both the three-day to compare apples and apples and the five-day, of course), according to Paramount.  One distrib noted that the opening was better than the Wednesday opening of Little Fockers three years ago December which clocked in at $7.1M that day and went on to grab a three-day total of $30.8M. In that instance, Fockers opened on Christmas Eve when many theaters are dark so its not exactly comparing apples with apples. Anchorman 2 also received a B Cinemascore, probably because the first 45 minutes were much stronger than the last 45 minutes, according to exhibs.

Meanwhile, The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug is headed for another strong weekend and is expected to pull in another $30M-plus over the three-day. Its cume to date with is now $91M as it continues to hold in 3,903 locales. And Thor: A Dark World is just days away from crossing the $200M domestically mark for Disney and Marvel with its cume now at 199.1M.

American Hustle, which had phenom per screen averages last weekend (over $123,000 per), goes wide for Sony on roughly 2,507 screens.  The David O.Russell film is finding its success across demos playing equally well with adult male and females. Not surprising. This strong ensemble piece of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is likely to gain strong positive word-of-mouth and have a good weekend. Sony expects a mid-to-high-teen million dollar weekend and a strong multiple … yep, expect long tail on this one.

Walking With DinosaursCompeting for Disney’s Frozen family audiences, comes Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs stomping in on 3,231 locations, but unlike Frozen, the dinosaur movie is made for 3D eye candy. The majority of theaters for Walking With Dinosaurs are 3D theaters – 84% to be exact. With Frozen already having established itself as a solid performer for families and adults, Disney is turning its attention this weekend to Saving Mr. Banks hoping to grab more attention for the film about Walt Disney securing the rights to Mary Poppins from its very proper and unwilling author played by Emma Thompson. Last weekend’s limited release saw smaller than hoped for numbers for the entertaining, story-driven film.

Also opening in limited release is Warner Bros.’ Her starring Joaquin Phoenix, and Sony Pictures Classics’ The Past which was just nominated for a Golden Globe as the Best Foreign Language Film and won Best Actress at Cannes for its star Bérénice Béjo.

Here is this week’s complete Top 20:

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Warner Bros., $31,505,278, 3,928 locations, $8,021 average, $127,550,695, Week 2.

2. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Paramount, $26,234,000, 3,507 locations, $7,480 average, $39,457,000, Week 1. (ESTIMATE)

3. Frozen, Disney, $19,642,107, 3,540 locations, $5,549 average, $192,034,117, Week 5.

4. American Hustle, Sony, $17,901,068, 2,507 locations, $7,140 average, $19,014,436, Week 2.

5. Saving Mr. Banks, Disney, $9,344,381, 2,110 locations, $4,429 average, $9,969,867, Week 2.

6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate, $8,764,479, 2,949 locations, $2,972 average, $371,718,275, Week 5.

7. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Lionsgate, $8,384,980, 2,194 locations, $3,822 average, $28,155,257, Week 2.

8. Walking With Dinosaurs, 20th Century Fox, $7,091,938, 3,231 locations, $2,195 average, $7,091,938, Week 1.

9. Dhoom 3, Yash Raj Films, $3,152,590, 239 locations, $13,191 average, $3,422,590, Week 1.

10. Thor: The Dark World, Disney, $1,341,763, 1,116 locations, $1,202 average, $200,779,871, Week 7.

11. Philomena,” The Weinstein Company, $1,210,637, 738 locations, $1,640 average, $13,322,189, Week 5.

12. Inside Llewyn Davis,” CBS Films, $1,081,364, 148 locations, $7,307 average, $2,132,514, Week 3.

13. The Book Thief, 20th Century Fox, $753,408, 680 locations, $1,108 average, $16,596,997, Week 7.

14.  Nebraska, Paramount, $564,000, 310 locations, $1,819 average, $4,370,000, Week 6.

15. Homefront,Open Road, $527,352, 675 locations, $781 average, $19,783,727, Week 4.

16. Delivery Man, Disney, $486,339, 663 locations, $734 average, $29,279,225, Week 5.

17. Gravity, Warner Bros., $431,497, 302 locations, $1,429 average, $253,567,282, Week 12.

18. The Best Man Holiday, Universal, $393,120, 351 locations, $1,120 average, $69,794,435, Week 6.

19. Dallas Buyers Club, Focus Features, $382,846, 330 locations, $1,160 average, $15,156,122, Week 8.

20. 12 Years A Slave, Fox Searchlight, $370,090, 301 locations, $1,230 average, $37,080,316, Week 10.