New opener “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (Paramount) narrowly edged out the second Friday of “The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) for the top spot yesterday. While the Will Ferrell starrer grossed $8.7 million, the Peter Jackson epic took in $8.6, close enough that either might prevail when the full weekend order is tallied. “Anchorman 2” has taken in almost $22 million in three days, while “Hobbit 2” is already over $104 million.
But the big news is the overall health of business yesterday. The top 10 totaled $40 million, a whopping $12 million ahead of the same Friday last year, and only $1 million below the same Friday in 2009 when “Avatar” opened. This success is not only because of the relative strength of the top 2, but more due to the solid performances of a range of films ranking just below.
Sony’s “American Hustle” — at #3 for now — leads this group, coming off its year-best platform openings last week to take in $6.3 million, playing in between 1,000 and 1,400 fewer theaters than the top 2. With its more adult, review-oriented appeal, this film is likely to stabilize or grow as the holiday heats up ahead. Its initial CinemaScore was B+, modestly favorable, but that shouldn’t be taken as any sort of ultimate gauge as to how audiences will react. We’ll see how it holds.
“Frozen” (Buena Vista) sits at #4 for the day at $5.1 million. Kid attendance at weekend matinees while parents shop could boost it higher for the full weekend. The film already sits at $177 million, with some of its strongest days to come.
At #5, also from Buena Vista, is “Saving Mr. Banks.” Coming off its decent but unspectacular opening limited runs, it grossed just under $3 million in 2,110 theaters. As a more family/older audience film, this initial take can be regarded as potentially positive as long as the film continues to draw enthusiastic viewers. As people gather for holiday events, and talk turns to recent movie viewing, word of mouth is as vital as any this time of year. So judging the future for this (as well as other openers) should include the caveat that at this time of the year, opening figures aren’t as determinative as they usually are the rest of the time.
Two other new entries in the top 10 appealed to vastly separate audiences. At #8 and $2.1 million, Fox’s “Walking With Dinosaurs” is lagging with family audiences, but again its better days should be still to come. However, with the film’s $80 million budget, those days need to be much better. At #9 is the Bollywood action sequel “Dhoom 3” (Yash Raj) at $1.1 million, playing at only 236 theaters. Its inclusion in the top 10 for a holiday-adjacent weekend shows the strength of the niche Indian film market in the U.S.
The other three slots were taken by holdovers. At #6, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (Lionsgate) grossed $2,450,000, now up to $365 million. #7 was “A Madea Christmas” (Lionsgate) at $2.4 million, down more than 60% from its below-par opening day. With the crush of new films still to open, the distributor is likely to see screen loss on both by next Wednesday. Wrapping up at #10 was “Thor – The Dark World” (Buena Vista) at $360,000, which might end up in a close race with “Philomena” (Weinstein) for the full weekend position, although at a low level of total gross.
The top new limited opening was Spike Jonze’s acclaimed “Her.” The Wednesday opener has altogether grossed $72,000 in six prime New York/Los Angeles locations for a three-day total of $176,000. Its weekend total will likely be around 40% of what “American Hustle” took in last week for its very strong opening, suggesting a somewhat more limited appeal for this film, along with greater competition and an overall weaker moviegoing weekend.