BOX OFFICE: ‘The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’ Grosses $8.8M In Midnight Shows, Faces Different Marketplace This Year

Warner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug generated $8.8 million from midnight screenings. The studio is calling it “the second biggest midnight numbers ever in December.” Last year, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey brought in about $13 million in a similar number of theaters at midnight.

Now, this reminds me of something I haven’t thought about in a long, long time but could use a mention: The studios are always looking for SOMEthing to tout … SOME way to use the box office to tout its numbers. When this first started years ago, we used to roll our eyes as we’d be told things like, “It’s the second biggest five-day opening for a May.” Everything can be spun, right? Such as, “the second biggest midnight in the South during an election year” or “it’s the highest box office three-day during a leap year.”

Though Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug’s midnight numbers are not ones for the record books, the fact is it is still on track for a big opening this weekend (estimates are around $80 million today) in a crowded marketplace that is very different environment from last year, when theaters had Lincoln and the ending run of Twilight pulling in small numbers. This weekend Hobbit has two very strong contenders in the marketplace for box office dollars with the family film Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“We had a fan base that was drooling to see the film,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “We’re off to a great start, the early matinees are great. I think the number of 3D screens (the increase) will help the upcharge of the film.” Of the pic’s $8.8 million midnight run, $1.2 million came from IMAX theaters.

On its opening day overseas Wednesday in select international territories, Smaug brought in $8.5 million for a gross that ended up 3% higher than last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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