Seriously, what was up with The Hobbit over the weekend? Last week it had the biggest December opening in history. This week it saw attendance and earnings numbers drop 57%. The Lord of the Rings dominated the holiday period with strong second weekend holds. But the same doesn’t hold true for The Hobbit. Considering that this first entry of a planned trilogy cost about $200 million (versus the $100 million each spent on the original trilogy) and this is looking like an average blockbuster, at least domestically. Worldwide The Hobbit will thrive. Could it possibly be that the drop off had something to do with the 48fps in certain locations? Surely not. Maybe it is a sign that first-weekend Tolkien fans didn’t feel a need to venture out to the cineplex to see it a second time this past weekend. Look for Bilbo, Gandalf and the rest of the journeymen to continue on their winning ways the days after Christmas. It will be the top earner well into the new year.
The advertising campaign for Jack Reacher was pretty piss poor, so any expectations on Paramount Pictures’ part was muted. Last year, Tom Cruise dominated December with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Jack Reacher is a low-key off-brand release for Cruise. Not helping its situation was the release coming days after the school shooting in Newton, CT. One of the scenes involves a sniper targeting people in a public area, including a six-year-old girl. Outside of this, the film was going to be a tough sell anyway, especially for avid book readers who are familiar with the Jack Reacher character. In author Lee Child’s bestselling series of novels, Reacher is described as a bruiser of a man with a six-foot-five frame and a girth of 250 pounds. Comparatively, Cruise is five-foot-eight and less than 200 pounds.
Opening at $15.6 million isn’t bad when you consider that Reacher only cost $60 million. That’s a mere pittance compared to some franchise starters. The figure is even less if you subtract Cruise’s salary. After his couch-jumping incident several years back, Cruise has remodeled his star appeal interspersing supporting turns in Tropic Thunder and Rock of Ages to go along with his leading man entries Valkyrie and Knight of Day. Outside of franchises we can assume that Tom Cruise will have releases that will do around the same numbers as Denzel Washington. For those who crave action, especially a ’70s-era throwback in terms of character, Jack Reacher is your best bet until Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham come calling in January with The Last Stand and Parker, respectively.
Placing third was This Is Forty. Marketed as the sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, Judd Apatow’s fourth effort behind the camera is humorous albeit unfocussed. Apatow is guilty of not knowing where to cut or what to cut from his comedies and the pacing suffers because of it. This Is Forty runs 2 hours and 14 minutes and it hits a wall around the 90-minute mark. Filled with subplots that went nowhere, also not helping its performance was having a film revolve around Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, neither of whom draw patrons to the cinema. Both are funny in ensembles, but as the focal point of the story they needed a better supporting cast, which includes Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox (surprisingly not as annoying as she was in the Transformer movies), Jason Segal, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow.
With no direct competition in the CGI-toon arena Rise of the Guardians continues to be in the top five discussion five weeks after its release. Already considered a dud by DreamWorks Animation, it would appear that opposing studios also failed to slot another animated release for the holiday season. Maybe they feared the big, bad Hobbit, having seen the destruction The Lord of the Rings did years ago. But that was years ago. Perceptions change. As does the marketplace.
Eight weeks into its release and Lincoln is still holding steady. This is the people’s choice for prestige entertainment at the moment and should continue well into the Golden Globes on Jan. 13th. It’s possible that the period drama could finish in the $140-$150 million range. Maybe more. Oscar nominations will help the film immensely. It already looks like Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones are locks for acting.
The experiment of re-releasing Disney classics in three dimensions appears to have faded. The downward trend started after the success of The Lion King. However with the case of Monsters Inc. 3D the film served as a nice 95-minute advertisement to remind kids to go see Monsters University in Summer 2013.
Leave it to Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand to leave some coal in your stocking this Christmas. The Guilt Trip was released and it seems to cater to persnickety grandmas of Jewish heritage. The horrible title notwithstanding (honestly, who would call a movie The Guilt Trip?) why would you even release this movie during the holidays. Rogen’s character is horrible to his mama. And I can only imagine the crossover appeal that Paramount Pictures was hoping to get with Rogen’s fans and Streisand’s older fanbase. The problem it turns out is that they made a comedy that no one would want to see.
Skyfall continues to chug along to the $1 billion mark, and it should hit that target before the clock strikes twelve to ring in the new year. Ang Lee’ Life of Pi looks to be wrapping things up. While it didn’t make it to the celebrated nine-figure spot in the U.S., overseas it continues to bring in money.
In limited release, Zero Dark Thirty played to a spectacular $82,000 per screen average on five screens in New York and Los Angeles. This is looking more and more like a smart move on the part of Sony Pictures; allowing the buzz to build before the film’s wide opening on January 11th. Even better – the film will open the day after Oscar nominations are announced.