The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens this weekend and it will clearly be the biggest hit of the month and likely the biggest hit of the winter. There is roughly a 100% chance that The Hobbit will earn first place and nearly all analysts think it will earn more than the entire box office earned last week. It might even earn more than the entire box office made last year. Last year, the box office was led by Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which made just under $40 million, while second place went to Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked with just over $23 million. If The Hobbit doesn't make more than those two films made combined, then the box office is in serious trouble.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a risky proposition. Filming all three films simultaneously was a risk, because if the film film failed to find an audience, the studio would be stuck with two more films no one wanted to see. (This happened later with Goal.) Fortunately for the studio, it was one of the biggest franchise around. When it ended, it was obvious the studio would want to continue the brand. (Actually, the original studio went under, so in this case, it was the studio that bought the old studio that is continuing the brand.) This is both a blessing and a curse for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. On the one hand, the film has pre-release buzz greater than most films can even dream about. On the other hand, the film also has very big shoes to fill. Almost everyone assumes the film will have the best opening in the franchise; however, its reviews are by far the weakest in the franchise. I don't think it will hurt the film too much in the short-term, but it does make getting to $100 million over the weekend harder. I'm going with $85 million over the weekend, which is still a monster opening for December. And with no other monster hits coming out this year, it should have long legs.
Rise of the Guardians should remain in second place with just under $7 million over the weekend pushing its running tally over $70 million.
Lincoln should benefit from its strong showings at the SAG and the Golden Globes rising to third place with just over $6 million. This will be enough to lift its running tally to over $100 million, which would be the first $100 million movie in Daniel Day-Lewis's career.
After reclaiming top spot, Skyfall will likely fall to fourth place with just under $6 million. Out of all of the films in the top ten, it is Skyfall that has the biggest audience crossover with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, so it will be hurt the most.
Life of Pi should rounded out the top five with just over $5 million, thanks in part to its Golden Globes nominations it received this week, but The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 should be close behind.
Date posted: 2012-12-13