As expected, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, crushed the competition at the box office in its debut weekend, setting a new December record in the process.
The Middle-earth-set film grossed $84.8 million over its first three days, handily surpassing I Am Legend‘s $77.2 million bow, which has held the record for best December debut since 2007. The Hobbit earned that $84.8 million from 4,045 theaters, giving it a powerful $20,958 per theater average. Included in that theater count were 326 IMAX locations, which accounted for $10.1 million of the weekend gross, as well as 461 locations that showed the film in the controversial 48 frames per second rate — those screenings, thankfully, had no surcharge. About 49 percent of The Hobbit‘s weekend take came from 3-D showings.
All told, The Hobbit‘s debut weekend was obviously strong, but it must be said that it finished at the low end of pre-release expectations, most of which had the film earning more than $100 million in its debut frame. The Hobbit, the first in a trilogy produced by New Line and MGM (with Warner Bros. distributing) for a reported $600 million, earned $37.5 million on Friday, yet it only managed an internal multiplier (that’s weekend gross divided by Friday gross) of 2.25 — a very low number that signifies front-loaded performance. Judging by The Hobbit‘s 25 percent plummet on Saturday, it appears that the Tolkien faithful rushed out for the film early in the weekend.
It remains to be seen whether The Hobbit can match the domestic totals of the Lord of the Rings films, which garnered gigantic grosses above $300 million from 2001-2003 (without 3D or IMAX prices). Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution, feels confident that The Hobbit is headed to gargantuan numbers in the post-Christmas moviegoing spree. “We’re very well-positioned to have a huge run,” says Fellman, who dismissed the high pre-release projections from box office prognosticators. “They were never anywhere near that from us,” he says.
Culled from Entertainment Weekly