1:30 PM EST, December 22, 2013
In the lead-up to one of the busiest times at the box office, audiences certainly spread around the Christmas cheer this weekend, as Warner Bros.' "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" continued its reign on top with an estimated $31.5 million Friday-Sunday, while Paramount's new entry "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" followed with a solid $26.8 million in three days.
Paramount bowed "Anchorman 2" midweek to give it a leg-up on the competition; pic has grossed $40 million since late night Tuesday.
The comedy sequel, which received a serviceable 'B' CinemaScore rating, had some B.O. observers predicting a slightly larger three-day gross in the low-$30 millions, though the crowded marketplace, added to the preoccupied nature of people around this time may have slowed the film down some. That said, films released at around Christmastime usually outperform their openings greater than any other time of year. A reasonable domestic outcome for "Anchorman 2" would be around $125 million-plus, based on its three-day opening.
Internationally, "Anchorman 2," with $13.4 million, already has more than doubled what the first film made overseas -- and from just six territories. Not surprisingly, leading the charge were the U.K. and Australia (the comedy will have a tougher time expanding to non-English speaking countries).
"One of the biggest takeaways this weekend is how well the film performed internationally for a franchise which started with a (virtually) domestic-only release," said Par vice chairman Rob Moore, who added that domestically, "the film is off to a great start with its core."
Meanwhile, "The Hobbit" has cumed $127.5 million domestically, with a gross north of $300 million already worldwide.
"The Hobbit" fell just 57% in its second Stateside frame -- just a touch more than its predecessor, which dropped 56% during its sophomore outing.
Wrestling for third place, Disney's "Frozen," with an estimated $19.2 million, secured a slight edge over Sony's "American Hustle" in its first weekend of wide release, grossing $19.1 million through Sunday.
In five weeks, "Frozen" has amassed more than $191 million domestically, positioning it just below this year's top 10 grossing films, with more than $344 million worldwide. "American Hustle," on the other hand, reached north of $20 million Stateside; Sony has yet to begin the film's overseas roll out.
Also expanding wide was Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks," which grossed a disappointing $9.3 million from 2,110 Stateside locations. The film's modest nationwide expansion wasn't altogether unexpected since "Banks" got off to a sluggish start last weekend in limited release. Disney hopes the film will become a larger choice for families next week given its 'A' CinemaScore, though "Banks" still will have to compete with Fox's "Walking With Dinosaurs," which started even more modestly this weekend (estimating $7.3 million).
And in limited release, Warner Bros.' Spike Jonze-directed "Her" earned a decent-not-great $42,969 per-screen average Friday-Sunday from six locations. By comparison, "American Hustle" -- a much larger-scale film compared to "Her" -- averaged more than $123,000 from six locations last weekend. Though Warners launched "Her" on Wednesday; pic averaged $60,246 in five days.