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Box Office: "HOBBIT" OUT OF REACH
Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Dec 21, 2012
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“The Hobbit” is primed to continue its quest this weekend, looking down at five new wide releases from high atop the box office mountain. While the previous “Lord of the Rings” films dropped -30% or less in their second weekend, don’t expect Peter Jackson’s latest to hold up quite like those did as reviews and word-of-mouth aren’t nearly as precious for the prequel. That said its worldwide tally has already matched Warner’s estimated $225 million budget, making this another holiday to remember for the studio.

“The Hobbit” certainly will have sustainable playability, no doubt; there is nothing in the realm of big budget blockbusters or fantasy films that can compete toe to toe with Jackson’s opus. That makes it an easy choice to rule this weekend with around $43 million as hobbits and dwarfs will have no trouble disposing of Tom Cruise, Babs, and things that jump and go bump in the night...in 3D. However, it will likely kneel down to both "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables" over the final weekend of 2012. 

Paramount has the best chance of finishing runner-up, as they release three new films this weekend—“Guilt Trip,” “Cirque Du Soleil: World’s Away 3D” and “Jack Reacher.”

Their PG-13 comedy “Guilt Trip” bagged just $1 million in 2,431 venues in its debut Wednesday, and looks like odd-couple stars Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand will have a tough time stuffing more than $7 million in their suitcases this weekend.

And while “Cirque Du Soleil” may still be one of Vegas’ biggest attractions, the big screen adaptation has very few people doing cartwheels, flips, or freaky contortions as it rolls out the big top in just 840 theaters. Paramount is also limiting the show times, which won’t bode well for box office glory. Expect $4-$5 million tops.

That said, “Jack Reacher” is Paramount’s man. That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as last winter’s biggest box office surprise was how much Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol” over-performed.  Thing is, Tom Cruise is no Ethan Hunt.  Cruise's last two bonafide box office hits are the last two installments of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise.  Outside of those flicks he hasn't had a $100+ million hit to really call his own since 2004's "Collateral."  

While "Jack Reacher" is based on a hit series of books and looks like a solid cinematic tough-guy, don't expect it to punch up big numbers in its debut. Typically, the weekend before Christmas is about getting last-minute preparations in order for the holidays, and often times flicks take a back seat to that. In 3,352 theatres, expect "Reacher" to reach around $16 million in its debut, which should be good enough for #2.  

Paramount and Cruise's people—no, not the Scientology wizards—would love for this to be another franchise, but odds are this will land in "Knight & Day" or "Valkyrie" territory--$75 million or so, tops.   

Right behind “Reacher” should be Judd Apatow's sequel-of-sorts, Universal’s "This is 40." While most of the younger audiences who propelled the prequel, "Knocked Up," to $148 million five years ago won’t quite relate to the sequel, it still has wide appeal, albeit a much older slant.

Unfortunately this one doesn't follow the exploits of Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, which turned in star-making performances in “Knocked Up” and created a cultural hot-button issue. “This is 40” just doesn’t offer up that same kind of viral content. Co-stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann take over the bill here, but while mid-life crisis movies need love too, jokes about erectile dysfunction and Rogaine get pretty thin, pretty quickly. 

"This is 40" should be able to snag $14 million on opening weekend and go on to be the top comedy of the holiday season, besting "The Guilt Trip" and "Parental Guidance."  I mean, unless all those Billy Crystal and Bette Midler fans suddenly make a mad rush from Home Town Buffet to the theaters.

"Monsters Inc. 3D" scared Disney stockholders instead of audiences, grossing just $775k in 2,618 theaters on opening day. With the declining grosses of Disney's 3D retrofits, don't be surprised if Boo and Co. max out at $7 million over the 5-day stretch. “Monsters University” can’t come soon enough, as this is the second 3D offering this fall from the Mouse House, which released “Finding Nemo 3D” in September.

It’s worth mentioning that Sony’s “Zero Dark Thirty” blasted into exclusive NY/LA release with nearly $125k in just 5 theaters on Wednesday. That kind of buzz-worthy per-theatre-average will definitely have people searching out Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s R-rated war drama that is well on its way to becoming one of the most talked about films of the year. Sony should expect huge things when this opens wide in January. Bin Laden Tits Up = Box Office Bounty.

And, on Christmas Day, two of the most anticipated releases take their bows, with Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” saddling up at 3,010 sites, while “Les Miserables” will serenade 2,807 cinemas. Look for them both to debut with close to $10 million on Xmas.

Happiest of holidays,

ERC

 


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