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'The Hobbit' Stays Number One As 'Jack Reacher,' 'This Is 40' Struggle


In a slow weekend for new releases, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had no problem remaining atop the box office charts with a decent $36 million haul, pushing its 10-day total to a strong $149 million domestically. While "The Hobbit" continued to find its target audience with ease, Tom Cruise's action-thriller "Jack Reacher" opened with a so-so $15.6 million and writer/director Judd Apatow's latest R-rated comedy "This is 40" managed just $12 million in its nationwide debut. "The Guilt Trip" and "Monsters, Inc. 3D" also landed in the top 10, though meager opening totals suggest they will have only moderate box office runs from now through New Year's Eve.

Hitting 3,352 total venues this weekend, "Jack Reacher" looked like a good formula for success, with decent reviews backing it up and a major star in Cruise headlining the cast. Though the weekend before Christmas is typically not one of the busiest of the year, an opening total of less than $5,000 per site is still not a good sign for "Reacher."

But even though the opening total for "Reacher" was less than expected, it should still post some very strong numbers throughout the busy holiday week and it could put up a similar total next weekend as well, which would give it a nice 10-day haul despite the lackluster opening. The major downside for "Reacher," however, is that "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables" will both be added into the mix on Christmas Day, giving audiences plenty of options in what is typically one of the busiest times of the year at the box office.

With a sub-par opening of $12 million this weekend, "This is 40" is also below expectations right now. After directing smash hits "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up," Judd Apatow looks like he might have his second straight disappointing release after "Funny People" struggled to find its target demographic back in 2009. The holiday crowds should give "This is 40" a boost over the next week and a half, but it doesn't look like it's in line to be much of a commercial success unless it benefits from very persuasive word-of-mouth.

The same also holds true for comedy "The Guilt Trip," starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. "Guilt Trip" managed just $2,431 per venue and didn't even make it into the top five, suggesting it doesn't have much of an audience to appeal to. Though "Guilt Trip" could put up somewhat decent numbers over the next week, its target demographic could also switch over to other titles like "Les Miserables" and it will likely see a drop in screenings before too long.

Aiming at a mostly different demographic over the weekend was Disney/Pixar's "Monsters, Inc. 3D." Though the original was one of the biggest hits in Pixar's history, earning what adjusts to $357 million domestically with inflation, family audiences weren't blown away by the idea of spending big dollars on seeing "Monsters, Inc." in 3D. But even with a very modest opening total of just $5 million, Disney/Pixar is setting up what should be a very successful box office run next summer for sequel "Monsters University." After Pixar's "Toy Story 3D" made only $30 million in the U.S. back in 2010, it undoubtedly helped push "Toy Story 3" over the $1 billion worldwide mark the following summer.

In one of the most unique parts of the movie release calendar, both "Django Unchained" and "Les Miserables" are in a good position to put up big numbers from their openings on Christmas Day through New Year's Eve. Acclaimed writer/director Quentin Tarantino once again has plenty of critical support for his R-rated western "Django Unchained," which could help make it yet another big commercial hit after Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" earned $120 million domestically just a few years ago. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") should also have some commercial appeal with his version of "Les Miserables," a star-studded musical that has a strong built-in audience and expectations of being another Oscar contender.

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 12/21/12 - 12/23/12 (in millions), [RTT Prediction]:

1) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Brothers): $36.71 [$41]

2) Jack Reacher (Paramount): $15.60 [$21]

3) This is 40 (Universal): $12.03 [$20]

4) Rise of the Guardians (Paramount/Dreamworks): $5.90 [$4.3]

5) Lincoln (Disney): $5.63 [$4]

6) The Guilt Trip (Paramount): $5.39 [$8]

7) Monsters, Inc. 3D (Disney): $5.04 [$7.8]

8) Skyfall (Sony/Columbia): $4.70 [$3.9]

9) Life of Pi (Fox): $3.80 [$2.8]

10) The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (Summit): $2.60 [$2.8]

by RTTNews Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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