With Warner Bros.-New Line’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” already debuting at No. 1 in several overseas markets, the studio turns its attention to the domestic box office, with Thursday midnight screenings. The sequel is expected to roughly equal the original’s $84 million opening, while Lionsgate’s “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” is tracking at 20 million-plus.
So far, “The Desolation of Smaug” has grossed $8.5 million from nine markets, including France, which contributed $2.8 million opening day, followed by Sweden, with $1.7 million.
The sequel, from MGM, expands this weekend to a total of 48 overseas territories. Germany, South Korea and Mexico bow the film Thursday, with Brazil, Italy, Spain and the U.K. set to follow on Friday.
In limited Stateside release, Sony launches Golden Globes-nommed “American Hustle” at six locations. The film’s seven bids, including best picture, will give the film added heat going into the weekend. Meanwhile, Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” which scored a nomination for lead actress Emma Thompson, launches Friday at 15 engagements.
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Domestically, “Smaug” is the clear winner with advanced ticket sales. Movietickets.com reported the film accounted for 88% of Wednesday’s transactions.
Both “The Hobbit” and “Madea” should give the box office an added boost, keeping industry totals on track to reach another domestic record.
“The Hobbit” has been earning solid reviews, which should help word of mouth. Despite mixed audience reactions, the first “Hobbit” still grossed more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
As the 16th Tyler Perry collaboration for Lionsgate, “A Madea Christmas” marks the helmer’s first holiday foray for the distributor. The film will have the African-American audience to itself through Christmas, though the biggest challenge Lionsgate faces with this film is maintaining audience interest after the holiday. Lionsgate launched an online Madea-themed advent calendar counting down to the film’s release.
Some industry pundits question whether “A Madea Christmas” would have benefited if Lionsgate had launched the film closer to Thanksgiving, giving it a longer holiday run, but the film would have then competed with Universal’s “Best Man Holiday” and Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity.”