“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” marched into theaters Tuesday night, picking up a formidable $11.2 million in pre-shows.
That outstrips the previous film in the series,” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which made $8.8 million in pre-shows, though it falls short of the first installment,”The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which roped in $13 million. Imax was responsible for $2.5 million of the “Five Armies” Tuesday night grosses.
Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth finale is projected to pull in between $70 million and $75 million over its first five days in theaters.
“Five Armies” began showing in the U.S. at 7 p.m. Tuesday and will expand to about 3,850 locations on Wednesday.
The film has already debuted in 37 foreign markets including such moviegoing hotspots as the United Kingdom, Germany and Russia, earning a smashing $122.2 million last weekend.
Stateside, a debut of about $70 million would put the film in the neighborhood of the previous two installments. The first film, “An Unexpected Journey,” kicked off to $84.6 million in 2012 and the second chapter, “The Desolation of Smaug,” earned $73.6 million in its initial weekend. The two pictures made just shy of $2 billion at the global box office.
Unlike the two other “Hobbit” films, this follow-up debuts against heavy competition in the form of “Annie” and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.” Theater owners hope that the films will inject some much-needed life into a moviegoing scene that is crawling toward the end of the year. Ticket sales trail 2013 by more than 5% heading into the Christmas holiday.
Reviews for the finale have lagged behind other editions. Rotten Tomatoes currently has the picture at 60% “fresh” compared with 64% for “An Unexpected Journey” and 74% for “Smaug.” The “Lord of the Rings” films all had “fresh” ratings of 90% or above.