‘Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ Lagging Behind Forecasts With Less Than $70 Million in U.S

Variety

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is showing a touch of franchise fatigue with Friday figures pointing to an opening U.S. weekend that could dip under $70 million.

That’s well below recent forecasts, which pegged the sequel earlier in the week to finish the frame around the same vicinity as the $84.6 million opening a year ago for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” That consensus slid to $77 million before the film opened.

With midnight and matinee screening figures coming in, several industry execs offered “Smaug” predictions Friday in the $62 million to $73 million range based on a Friday total in the $26 million to $30 million range. Peter Jackson’s sequel, produced by New Line and MGM, is launching at 3,903 U.S. locations.

However, the sequel should enjoy a long holiday play period as schools start to let out this week. Additionally, reviews have been stronger for “Smaug” with a 74% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with 65% for “An Unexpected Journey.”

“Smaug” generated respectable returns with $8.8 million in its Thursday midnight screenings in the U.S. — 32% below the $13 million midnight showings total for “An Unexpected Journey.” The “Smaug” total included $1.25 million from Imax shows.

“An Unexpected Journey” delivered slightly over $1 billion — $303 million domestically and another $714 million internationally.

Thus far, the foreign results for “Smaug” are 11% tracking above “An Unexpected Journey,”which took in $15.23 million on Thursday from international markets for a two-day cume of $24 million.

France was the leading “Smaug” market with $4.3 million in two days, 8% ahead of “Journey.” Germany’s opening day on Thursday was the biggest opening of the year with $3.4 million on 1,462 screens, with a 75% of the top market share — 91% ahead of “Catching Fire” and 67% ahead of “An Unexpected Journey.”

Initial results for Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” was also coming in below forecasts of $20 million-plus. Friday grosses looked to be about $4 million for a potential $12 million weekend.  It’s the 16th Tyler Perry collaboration for Lionsgate, which is launching “Madea Christmas” at 2,194 domestic locations, and the first holiday foray for the studio.

Disney’s animated “Frozen” looks likely to finish in second place in its third weekend in wide release with about $20 million, declining about 40% after winning last weekend with $31.6 million. That would represent an impressive hold for the toon, which has gone past $142 million domestically.

Lionsgate’s fourth weekend of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” will probably finish ahead of “Madea Christmas” with $13 million. The tentpole will finish the frame with domestic grosses nearing $360 million and the foreign cume also in that vicinity.

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