BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS FOR THE WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 14-16 2012 By MovieTubeNow
There is only one new film opening in wide release this weekend by MovieTubeNow: After a couple of light weeks, the box office will return to form with the release of the first part of Peter Jackson’s highly awaited new trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth has many fans drooling with anticipation, giving the film a good chance of setting a new opening weekend record for the month of December. The current record holder is I am Legend which opened with $77.2 million on this same weekend five years ago. Based on my estimates the Top 10 will generate about $145.5 million over the weekend, up about 37.4% from last year when Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows from Warner Bros. and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked from 20th Century Fox led the overall Top 10 to a total of $105.9 million.
After years of anticipation, moviegoers will finally get to revisit Middle Earth with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from Warner Bros. Originally slated as a two part film, The Hobbit has morphed into a trilogy that will see parts 2 and 3 being released in 2013 and 2014 respectively. One of the most anticipated films of the year (and decade), The Hobbit should have no trouble beating the opening weekend for December set by I Am Legend ($77.2 million opening) back in 2007. The film is going to be a big hit, there’s no question of that, but will it be able to match the grosses of its predecessors? Let’s break it down.
Starting with the negatives, The Hobbit hasn’t been enjoying the universal praise from critics that the three Lord of the Rings films enjoyed with some critics finding it long and boring. Nonetheless, many have been praising the film as a worthy successor to the original films. Reviews probably won’t matter all that much in the long run, but they may keep some moviegoers who are on the fence from buying a ticket this weekend. Opening in December is also a challenge. As noted before, the opening weekend record is a mere $77.2 million. Even the mighty Avatar wasn’t able to set a record. In all fairness though, James Cameron’s epic was sidelined by a huge snowstorm that ravaged the East Coast. This is a busy time of the year with many people attending holiday parties and doing last minute shopping. This may cause them to wait and see the film after the holidays when they have more free time on their hands. The only other negative is that reaction to the version of the film that was filmed in a high frame usage format of 48FPS has been pretty bad. This really won’t be a problem though as the film will only be shown in this way in less than 10% of the theatres showing the film.
With that out of the way, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has way more going for it than against it this weekend. The film has a huge built-in fanbase because of the original trilogy that has been anticipating this film for nearly ten years. This fanbase is even more excited because the latest films are directed by Jackson, which was originally not going to be the case. It certainly doesn’t hurt that The Hobbit is one of the best-selling novels of all time. The last Rings film opened on this very weekend back in 2003 with a then record of $72.6 million. The number was diluted because the film opened on Wednesday, something The Hobbit will not have to worry about. The Hobbit should pull in nearly the same audience but with the benefit of 9 years of ticket inflation and premium surcharges for 3D and IMAX showings. The marketing has been incredibly strong for the film as well. There is probably not a moviegoer alive who doesn’t know the film is opening on Friday.
As evidenced by the strong performance of big films such as The Avengers, The Hunger Games, The Dark Knight Rises and more recently Skyfall and the final Twilight film, event movies have been all the rage this year. Many of these films have outperformed tracking and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey may capitalize on this trend. Especially because the last two weekends at the box office have been rather uneventful and most holdover hits such as Skyfall and Lincoln are slowing down. The Hobbit is also the only new film opening this weekend. The film should also appeal to the family audience as the film’s tone is lighter than The Lord of the Rings trilogy. With most families already having seen Wreck-It Ralph and Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians disappointing at the box office, The Hobbit should be able to swoop in and serve this audience. This may not help all that much on opening weekend, but the family audience will fuel the box office for the film over the holiday break. Look for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to collect about $108 million this weekend.
To see the rest of my predictions for the weekend, check out the chart below.
Weekend Release Schedule, 2012 vs. 2011 by Movietube
All debuting titles for the weekend are in red.
DECEMBER 14-16 2012