Saturday Top Ten Preview: ‘The Hobbit’ Gobbles Up 80% of Box Office, ‘Lincoln’ Strong

Saturday Top Ten Preview: 'The Hobbit' Gobbles Up 80% of Box Office, 'Lincoln' Strong

As expected, Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" overcame a turbulent production history, mixed reviews and a nearly three-hour length to open strong. The $37-million-plus gross included some $13 million from midnight shows: about one million people on a December weeknight attended the first late night showings across the country. Simultaneous international openings suggest similar global reaction, leading to a strong head wind for the expensive production heading into Christmas.

While very good, the gross suggests that it might not ascend the heights of previous pre-Christmas December openings such as "Avatar" or "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." The latter opened on a Wednesday, with lower ticket prices and without the boost of 3-D and other supplemental charges that "The Hobbit" enjoys, and at $34.5 million, sold substantially more tickets on its way to a first five-day gross of $124 million. "Avatar," at slightly lower ticket prices–with the same 3-D boost and about 600 fewer screens– did $26.7 its opening day (also a Friday). The comparison of first Saturday among these films will better determine how strong this film is.

No other new opening attempted to challenge "The Hobbit"; the rest of the line-up consists of holdovers. Among the top ten films, "The Hobbit" actually did more than 80% of the business. But despite the competition and the usual pre-Christmas doldrums, three holdovers enjoyed better-than-usual holds. "Lincoln" fell only a little more than 20% and has already passed $100 million. "The Life of Pi" and "The Rise of the Guardians" both fell around a third, which helps position them for competing for continuing through the holidays in many theaters. The rest dropped between 40 and 50% for the day,more in line for the season.

The Top Ten for Friday in millions:

1) "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Warner Bros.) – $37.5

2) "Lincoln" (Buena Vista) – $1.9

3) "Skyfall" (Sony) – $1.9

4) "The Rise of the Guardians" (Paramount) – $1.5

5) "Breaking Dawn – Part 2" (Lionsgate) – $1.5

6) The Life of Pi (20th Century-Fox) – $1.4

7) "Playing for Keeps" (FilmDistrict) – $1.0

8) "Wreck-It Ralph" (Buena Vista) – $.7

9) "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) – $.7

10) "Silver Linings Playbook" (Weinstein) – $.6

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