“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Frozen” were neck-and-neck for No. 1 Saturday, as the year’s busy final weekend had the box office on a record-breaking pace.
“Smaug” and Disney 3D animated hit kept their leads Friday and were heading for three-day totals of around $30 million. With “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” bunched and likely to wind up near $20 million, the overall box office was running roughly 20 percent ahead of last year’s final week. That means it’s a virtual lock to push the year past 2012’s $10.84 billion domestic total.
“Frozen” ran just ahead of the Tolkien tale Friday, taking in $10.2 million from 3,335 theaters, while “The Hobbit” brought in $10.1 million from a market-high 3,928 screens, most of which are 3D.
It would be quite an achievement if “Frozen” can pull out the win, since it’s in its sixth week of release. It has already brought in $230 million in the U.S. and is approaching $400 million worldwide.
“Smaug,” the second entry in Peter Jackson’s trilogy has now taken in more than $500 million worldwide for Warner Bros. and MGM and more than $170 million domestically since rolling out on Dec. 13. It’s still showing major momentum — it’s Friday total was 16 percent higher than last Friday’s.
The Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2” was a solid third with $7.1 million from 3,507 locations, and has pushed its domestic total over $70 million since last week for Paramount. The original took in $85 million total back in 1994.
Meanwhile, David O. Russell’s quirky comedy “American Hustle” surged past “The Wolf of Wall Street” and into fourth with $6.4 million from 2,507 theaters Friday.
That’s on par with last Friday’s wide opening and means that Sony’s Oscar hopeful starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is on pace to top its $19 million first weekend of wide release. The domestic total for the comedy from Annapurna and Columbia Pictures was up to $46.7 million Saturday.
Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf” was just behind it, with $6.2 million from 2,537 locations. Friday’s take was a little off from Thursday’s number, but the R-rated black comedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio is still on track to take in more than $35 million over the long weekend for Paramount.
Disney’s Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson drama “Saving Mr. Banks” was fifth after bringing in $4.7 Friday. That translates to a $15 million second weekend for the awards hopeful, which has upped its domestic total to $28.5 million.
Another of the Christmas Day openers, Fox’s “Secret Life of Mitty” added $4.5 million from 2,909 theaters Friday and is looking at around $13 million for the three days and $25 million for the five.
The news wasn’t as good for “47 Ronin,” which brought in $3.4 million Friday and is looking at around $10 million for the three days and around $20 million for the five days. That’s a little better than expected but Universal will be taking a major writedown on the $175 million samurai action epic starring Keanu Reeves.
Also read: Is ’47 Ronin’ One of 2013’s Biggest Bombs?
Two other Christmas openers were bombing.
Warner Bros.’ Sylvester Stallone-Robert DeNiro boxing comedy “Grudge Match” was headed for a dismal $7 million weekend and won’t make the top ten after taking in $2.4 million from 2,838 theaters Friday. It’s five-day total looks to be around $13 million.
Justin Bieber’s “Believe” managed just $778,000 from 1,037 screens Friday for Open Road. That means the pop star’s concert film will barely crack $2 million for the weekend.
The Weinstein Company opened the Meryl Streep-Julie Robert dysfunctional family comedy “August: Osage County” in five theaters and it brought in $57,253, for a solid per-screen average of $11.451.
TWC also expanded “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” from four screens to 975 and it $800,000 for a very soft $821 per-screen average.
Two Lionsgate movies, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas,” rounded out the top ten.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is still going strong. It’s $3.4 million Friday total was up an impressive 36 percent from last Friday and the Jennifer Lawrence sequel is on pace for a $10 million sixth week. It should hit $400 million domestically by next week and will cross $800 million worldwide this weekend or soon after.
The first “Hunger Games” finished with $408 million domestically and $791 worldwide last year.
Perry’s comedy is looking at a $7 million second weekend, which will put its domestic total near $40 million.