December 15, 2012


Based on Friday’s grosses, Weekend #50 is on pace to exceed the  multi-year average for this weekend by a very solid 27%, and the $142 million total for the top 12 films is the best since December 14-16, 2007 ($152 million).  This weekend is all about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, which is on track to set a December opening record (although somewhat below the torrid pace we forecast on Wednesday).  

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from Warner Brothers opened with $36.6 million Friday, putting it on pace for almost $99 million Friday-Sunday, below the bullish $110 million ShowbuzzDaily forecast issued earlier this week.  The opening weekend translates to a very good $24,400 average at 4,045 theaters (compared to the $5,333 average for all wide-release films the last two years).  Critical reaction has settled down to a just okay 65% positive review score, far below the three Lord of the Rings trilogy films.  Reviewers knock the film for its plodding pace, while others complain about the new 48 frames-per-second film rate (exactly double what the audience has experienced for over a century).  Let’s hope 48 FPS goes the way of bad motion-capture animation, lazy 3D conversions, and smell-o-vision.  The Hobbit should finish with around $315 million domestic, on the low end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy domestic track.

Weekend 50: December 14-16, 2012 ($ millions)
Pre-Wknd Showbuzz Forecast Early Weekend Estimate Actual Friday Gross Showbuzz Domestic Final Proj.
The Hobbit WB [110] 98.8 36.6 315
Rise of the Guardians Par/DW [6.3] 6.9 1.5 89
Lincoln Dis [5.9] 6.7 1.9 133
Skyfall Sony [5.9] 6.3 1.8 286
Life of Pi Fox [4.7] 5.2 1.4 87
Breaking Dawn Part 2 Sum [4.6] 4.8 1.5 283
Playing for Keeps FilmDis [3.0] 3.1 1.0 13
Wreck-It Ralph Dis [2.7] 3.0 .7 180
Red Dawn FilmDis [2.2] 2.3 .7 47
Silver Linings Playbook Weins [—] 1.9 .6
Flight Par [1.7] 1.8 .5 97

Note: The table above summarizes an early look at the weekend.  The first column is a reminder of each film’s ShowBuzzDaily Forecast for the weekend (in brackets).  The second column, on which the films are sorted, displays the new weekend projection for each film, based on the Friday numbers (the third column).  The final column is a preliminary estimate of the ShowbuzzDaily Domestic Total number for the film’s total run in North America.  A “++” indicates the Domestic number has been upgraded; a “–” indicates a downgrade.


New Line

Critics Positive ($ millions)
Opening Weekend Domestic Domestic Total Overseas Total Worldwide Total
Fellowship of the Ring 12.19.2001 PG13 92% 47.2 315.5 555.9 871.5
The Two Towers 12.18.2002 PG13 96% 62.0 342.5 583.5 926.0
Return of the King 12.17.2003 PG13 94% 72.6 377.8 742.1 1119.9


In case you missed them, click to see this week’s Weekend Predictions.


Total Box Office Volume

The Top 12 Films this weekend are looking like $142 million total Friday-Sunday, up 27% from the average comparable weekend the last four years and up 29% from the especially weak same weekend last year.

 WEEKEND #50 ($ millions)
Weekend Volume: Top 12 Films Top Movies Opening Each Weekend (Fri-Sun only)
2012 $142 The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey $98
2011 $110 Sherlock Holmes 2 $40, Alvin & Chipmunks 3 $23
2010 $128 TRON: Legacy $44, Yogi Bear $16, The Fighter $12
2009 $130 Avatar $77, Did You Hear About Morgans? $7
2008 $81 Yes Man $18, Seven Pounds $15
Avg 2008-11 $112

Check back tomorrow for more complete Weekend Studio Estimates based on Saturday’s actual box office, as well as the International Box Office report.

About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.