“The Wolf of Wall Street,” director Martin Scorsese’s searing take on the sex-and-drug-fueled excess of the 1980s stock market boom, couldn’t top reigning champ “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” in its debut at the Christmas Day box office.
The black comedy starring Leonard DiCaprio came close, taking in $9.1 million from 2,537 theaters Wednesday, just behind the $9.3 million of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien tale, which was on a market-high 3,928 screens, most of which were 3D.
But Paramount’s R-rated “Wolf’ received just a “C” CinemaScore from first-night audiences, so it could have a tough time making up ground on “Smaug” over the holiday weekend. That grade underscores the box-office challenge for the very-adult “Wolf,” which may put off some moviegoers with its portrayals of debauchery.
If “Hobbit” hangs on, it will be the third straight weekend win for the Warner Bros. blockbuster, which has taken in $150 million domestically and $425 million worldwide for Warner Bros.
The Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” brought in $8.1 million for Paramount and was third, just ahead of another of the six films that opened Wednesday, Fox’s surprisingly strong “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
The comedy directed by and starring Ben Stiller brought in a better-than-expected $7.8 million from 2,909 locations and audiences gave it a “B+” CinemaScore. It beat out holdover “American Hustle,” David O. Russell’s quirky tale of Abscam con men, which was fifth with an estimated $7.4 million for Sony.
Universal’s “47 Ronin,” the samurai action epic starring Keanu Reeves, debuted with $7 million from 2,689 theaters. That was ahead of very low expectations and it received a “B+” CinemaScore, too. But it’s clear already that it won’t come near offsetting its $170 million production budget.
The weakest of the wide openers was the Sylvester Stallone-Robert De Niro boxing comedy “Grudge Match,” which took in $4 million from . It received a “B+” CinemaScore and a slow start for the mature-skewing comedy from Warner Bros. isn’t a major surprise.
It finished ninth, behind two Disney films. The 3D animated kids film “Frozen” was seventh with $6.3 million after Wednesday, but look for the Disney Animation hit to move up the ladder as families come out this weekend. “Saving Mr. Banks,” starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in the story behind the making of “Mary Poppins,” was eighth with $5.1 million.
Justin Bieber’s concert documentary “Believe” didn’t get much of a boost from his Christmas Eve tweet announcing his retirement. It brought in a soft $1.25 million from 1,037 theaters in its debut for Open Road.
See video: One Crazy Christmas Movie Mashup
Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas” brought in $2.9 million to finish tenth Wednesday, knocking “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” out of the top ten for the first time since it opened five weeks ago. The Lionsgate sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence has taken in $375 million domestically and more than $770 million worldwide.
The Weinstein Company expanded “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” from four to 975 theaters, and it took in $1.2 million, for a so-so $1,285 per-screen average.