‘Hobbit’ Finale Poised for $75 Million-Plus U.S. Opening

The finale for Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy should mine plenty of riches in the U.S. with “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” poised to take in at least $75 million through Sunday.

“Five Armies” will begin showing in the U.S. at 7 p.m. Tuesday and expand to about 3,850 locations on Wednesday.

Despite the potential for franchise fatigue and a U.S. box office that’s down 5% this year, the forecast numbers for “Five Armies” appear impressive even if they are a bit lower than the first two films.

Recent tracking has pegged the third Hobbit movie as high as $80 million for the five days in the U.S. while New Line — which teamed with MGM to finance the $700 million trilogy — is slightly more cautious at about $75 million.

Comparisons with the first two Hobbit films are tricky since both opened in the U.S. on Fridays. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” took in $84.6 million in its first three days while “Smaug” grossed $73.6 million in its opening weekend.Reviews have been favorable, coming in at 62% “fresh” on the Rotten Tomatoes site.

International results for “Five Armies” have already been stellar, coming in  ahead of the two previous Hobbits, with $122.2 million from 15,395 screens in 37 markets as of Sunday. Over 70% of the total came from 3D screens.

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Along with the U.S., South Korea, Italy and Spain debut the movie this weekend and China opens on Jan. 23.

The first two Hobbit movies showed enormous traction outside the United States.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” took in 70% of its worldwide grosses outside the U.S. with $714 million and $303 million in the U.S., the fifth largest 2012 title. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” grossed $700 million internationally and $258 million domestically, the eighth-largest U.S. title.

The first two Hobbit films also faced minimal competition as “Journey” was the only opener in the U.S., while “Smaug” launched against “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.” “Five Armies” will face competition for families domestically on Friday when Sony launches its updated “Annie” and Fox opens comedy sequel “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.”

Recent tracking has pegged “Annie,” starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx, for an opening in the low-to-mid $20 millions range while the third “Museum” should come in at about $25 million.

The updated “Annie” may have been hurt by being one of the five Sony films leaked online by hackers, though the musical also lacks critical support with a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The “Night at the Museum” franchise, starring Ben Stiller, has a strong box office pedigree with the first two films combining for $940 million worldwide. “Battle for the Smithsonian” launched impressively in 2009 with a $54 million opening weekend in the U.S.

Reviews for the London-set “Secret of the Tomb” have been mixed with a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox’s second weekend of “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and Liosngate’s fifth frame of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” will likely lead the rest of the pack in the U.S.



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