December 16, 2012



OPENINGS:  THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Warners/MGM), with its currently estimated $84.8M opening, has broken the previous December record (2007’s I Am Legend) by about 10%.  However, it’s also on track to be the first Lord of the Rings-related film to make less than $300M at the US boxoffice, despite being the first in the franchise since 2003 (with its lower ticket prices), and having the benefit of 3D and IMAX surcharges.  The film will almost certainly overperform greatly elsewhere in the world, because international boxoffice has done nothing but climb over the past decade (Hobbit has already banked $138.2M overseas for a $223M global total), and there are some for whom worldwide boxoffice is all that matters, but a major franchise’s declining value in the US is worthy of note.

HOLDOVERS:  Hobbit wiped the floor with everything else this weekend.  Nevertheless, the holdovers stayed quite steady, with nothing in the rest of the Top 10 falling more than 44%–that even includes last week’s loser PLAYING FOR KEEPS (FilmDistrict)LINCOLN (Disney/DreamWorks/20th) was particularly strong, dropping only 19% (with the addition of 10% more screens), to hit $108M.  With its presumed Oscar nominations hitting in January, Lincoln could get as high as $150M by the time the awards are given out, and since the film cost a relatively modest $65M, it may be one of the most successful “history lessons” of all time.  Meanwhile, SKYFALL (Sony/MGM) now has $1B in its sights, with $951M already earned, and both the holiday season and what could be a gargantuan Chinese opening in January still ahead.  Thinking of China, that country’s growing importance to big-budget Hollywood moviemaking is demonstrated by its bail-out of LIFE OF PI (20th), an expensive film that (not counting this weekend, for which the international numbers aren’t yet in) was grossing more in China alone than it is here.  RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount), down 29% from last weekend, will have to cope with its first direct competition beginning on Wednesday, when the 3D re-release of Monsters Inc (Disncy/Pixar) arrives for the holidays.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Word is that SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein) will finally expand beyond its 371-theatre run on Christmas Day.  For now, word-of-mouth and pre-Oscar nomination love from the Golden Globes and other groups are paying off, as the movie is estimated to drop a tiny 4% from last week.  (And for once, its Sunday estimate doesn’t seem likely to fall steeply on Monday.)  Other awards hopefuls aren’t faring as well.  ANNA KARENINA (Focus/Universal) is running out of steam with a $2500 average at 408 theatres.  HITCHCOCK (Fox Searchlight) expanded to 561 theatres, and only reached a $1900 average.  HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (Focus/Universal) widened to 36 theatres with a $8200 average. THE SESSIONS (Fox Searchlight), now at only 151 theatres, couldn’t even hit a $1000 average. RUST AND BONE (Sony Pictures Classics), at only 6 theatres (adding 2 this weekend) had just a $9300 average.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."