Ron Burgundy and his motley crew of overzealous news anchors are back in theaters, with tracking suggesting the Paramount sequel, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” will gross in the high $40 millions over five days.
“Anchorman 2,” which bows at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, will compete with Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” for the three-day crown. Both are expected to land in the low-$30 millions Friday-Sunday.
Paramount bumped up “Anchorman 2” by two days to give the film a headstart on an otherwise crowded pre-holiday frame.
In addition to “The Hobbit,” which enters its second Stateside outing with $80 million through Monday, Sony’s “American Hustle” and Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” both expand nationwide on Friday after their limited openings last weekend. “Hustle” looks to fare better, with expectations in the high-to-mid teens; while “Banks,” which struggled in limited release, is expected to gross somewhere north of $10 million in three days.
Similarly, Fox’s animated family film “Walking With Dinosaurs” should gross somewhere in the low-teens during its first domestic outing starting Friday.
Some B.O. pundits expect “Anchorman 2” to open higher with a three-day bow closer to $40 million. That would easily make it the No. 1 film over “Hobbit” this weekend (although there is doubt as to whether the current marketplace can sustain such an opening). The most recent past comparison would be Warner Bros.’ 2011 “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, “A Game of Shadows,” which opened to $39.6 million in three days. But that film bowed on a Friday during a less competitive time frame.
Regardless, either outcome would be an impressive feat for “Anchorman 2,” considering the original grossed just $84 million in 2004. The anticipation for the sequel is a testament to the franchise’s popularity that was built largely in the ancillaries and heavily marketed via social media and pretty much everywhere.
The Christmas play period is the most robust time of year at the box office, outside of summer, with the average film grossing around five times more than its domestic opening. That puts “Anchorman 2,” which cost $50 million to produce, in a comfortable position, especially if it is able to match the most ambitious expectations.
“Anchorman 2” reunites Will Ferrell as the bumbling, yet good-natured, Burgundy with his newsroom cohorts played by Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate and David Koechner. Guest stars include Kristen Wiig, Jim Carrey, Harrison Ford, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.