“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was heading for an easy second week victory at the box office, on pace for a $32 million weekend after rolling up an estiimated $10 million Friday.
That’s way ahead of the Tom Cruise thriller “Jack Reacher,” which debuted with $5 million Friday and is looking at around $15 million for the weekend. Audiences liked it, giving it an “A-“ CinemaScore, but it's not going to be "Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol." That opened to $12 million in a limited debut last year but made nearly $30 million in its second-week wide rollout.
Though it's behind their opening pace, “Jack Reacher” could wind up playing more like Cruise's “Knight and Day,” which opened to $20 million and went on to make $76 million for Fox in 2010, or “Valkyrie,” which did $83 million in 2008 after opening to $21 million.
“The Hobbit” dropped nearly 70 percent from last week's opening, but those numbers were swelled by midnight screenings. Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth epic now has a domestic total of $129 million and is approaching $350 million worldwide for Warner Bros.
The overall box office wasn’t as busy as the studios had hoped for. It’s running nearly 20 percent behind the comparable weekend last year, when “Ghost Protocol” made $29 million and “Sherlock Holmes” made $20 million, both in their second weeks.
A notable exception was Sony's Oscar front-runner "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's saga of the manhunt for Osama bin Laden. It took in $115,000 from five locations for a $23,095 per-screen average, by far the best of any film in release. It's taken in a strong $344,000 since opening Wednesday.
Writer-director Judd Apatow’s Universal comedy “This is 40” was in third and on course for a three-day total of around $13 million after taking in $3.7 million Friday. First-night audiences gave it a “B-“ CinemaScore.
It’s doing far better than Paramount’s “Guilt Trip,” which opened Wednesday. The Barbra Streisand-Seth Rogen road comedy brought in $1.5 million Friday and is looking at just $4.2 million for the three days, around $6.2 for the five-day period.
The same studio’s other Friday opener, 3D concert film “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away," managed $850,000 from about 800 screens and is tracking for a $2.8 million weekend.
In its fifth week, DreamWorks Animation’s “Rise of the Guardians” was in fourth and has raised its overall domestic gross to nearly $80 million. It took in $1.5 million Friday and will likely finish the weekend at around $6 million.
“Guardians” was off just two percent from the previous week, and wasn’t hurt much by Disney’s 3D re-release of “Monsters, Inc.,” which brought in $1.3 million and is looking at $4.6 million for the weekend.
That’s well off the pace of two 3D re-releases from Disney earlier this year. "Beauty and the Beast" debuted to $17 million in July and went on to make $47 million. In September, a converted "Finding Nemo" took in $16 million in its first week and wound up at $41 million.
Summit Entertainment's Spanish tsunami survival tale "The Impossible" took in $37,660 from 15 locations in its debut. That translates to a weekend total of around $127,000, or a per-theater average of around $8,500.