It's an embarrassment of riches. The days following Christmas have been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs in grosses. On Friday, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" repeated the #1 spot it regained on Thursday, but "Django Unchained" climbed ahead of "Les Miserables" for #2, with the latter falling to #3 narrowly after leading all films on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thus the ranking has been different each of the last four days, which is unheard of most of the time, but does occur during the intense holiday playtime as major hits sort themselves out and word of mouth takes hold. See Top Ten Chart below.
The top three films continue to dominate the holiday week business, and irrespective of order are all quite strong. But patterns are starting to emerge that might take hold for the rest of the weekend and beyond. And a fourth film — "Parental Guidance"– is gaining some traction as the top PG-rated alternative among the newbies.
Peter Jackson's prequel passed the $200 million mark in 15 days, while the four-day totals for "Les Miserables" ($49 million) and "Django Unchained" ($43 million) place them behind "Sherlock Holmes" and "Marley and Me" as four-day top-grossers for a December 25 release. Both have much farther to go, with "Les Miserables" certain to have an Oscar push to bolster it shortly after. "Django"'s Oscar chances are less certain, but at this point it seems to be propelled by strong word of mouth and is crossing over to a wider –and younger–non-holiday-boosted audience.
Which film will wind up the biggest grosser remains to be seen. But both (along with the much more expensive "The Hobbit") are major successes which have guaranteed that 2012, with unadjusted numbers, will be the top-grossing year ever.
Total grosses for the Top Ten were up about six per cent from the same Friday last year, with the business more centered on the top three. But the Billy Crystal-Bette Midler comedy "Parental Guidance" is showing some strength. Its gross yesterday was better than the fourth for "War Horse" last year (also a Christmas opener), which ended up at $80 million. This could be a film that holds on as a general audience alternative for the next few weeks.
More kids-oriented films would have boosted this year's numbers. Thus "Monsters, Inc. 3D" and "Rise of the Guardians" — one a reissue, the other around since Thanksgiving — ranked only #8 and #10, weaker than the top kid-centered releases in most years. Last week's openers "Jack Reacher" (#5) and "This Is 40" (#6) both continue to benefit from increased holiday movie attendance but an uncertain future much beyond the holidays. "The Guilt Trip" (#9) never has gained traction. Meantime, "Lincoln" (#7) enjoys its eighth week in the Top Ten, with likely more ahead as it steadily adds new revenues to its already incredible total, likely ultimately to top both "Les Miserables" and "Django Unchained."
Among the limited releases, Weinstein's expansion of "Silver Linings Playbook" placed in 12th for the day, while Sony's "Zero Dark 30," still only in five theaters, continues to exhibit huge numbers in New York and Los Angeles in advance of its minor expansion next Friday and wide release on January 11.