Two weekends ago, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opened way below expectations in the United States and Canada; yet, The Hobbit 2 is hanging in there. Chiefly because Will Ferrell's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues underperformed on its domestic debut, The Hobbit 2 topped the North American box office last weekend. Chiefly because Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's collaboration The Wolf of Wall Street debuted with less than $10 million, The Hobbit 2 topped the North American Christmas box office two days ago. And chiefly because there's no strong competition out there, The Hobbit 2 is expected to top the North American box office once again this weekend, December 27-29, 2013 -- the last weekend of the year.
Budgeted at approximately $190 million -- not including another $100 million or so in marketing and distribution costs -- The Hobbit 2 has to date collected $160.45 million in the U.S. and Canada according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. The good news for distributor Warner Bros., and producing companies Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, New Line Cinema, and WingNut Films is that the Hobbit sequel is, as expected, performing remarkably well internationally. According to studio estimates, yesterday, Dec. 26, the film surpassed the $500 million milestone worldwide.
On the domestic front, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will get close to the $200 million milestone by Sunday evening. According to Variety, The Hobbit 2 will likely collect somewhere between $30-32 million this weekend. (Sunday update: The Hobbit 2 grossed an estimated $29.85 million, easily topping the North American box office.)
Its topping the North American box office chart for the third consecutive weekend is all but inevitable, as The Hobbit 2's top competitors -- Anchorman 2 and The Wolf of Wall Street -- are both expected to gross somewhere around $20 million. Thus, The Hobbit 2 is about to become only the second 2013 release to achieve that feat, following the Sandra Bullock and George Clooney space drama Gravity.
Note: The Vin Diesel and Paul Walker actioner Fast and Furious 6 topped only two weekends. The film is listed three times on Box Office Mojo's 2013 chart because there are two listings (three-day, four-day) for the Memorial Day weekend.
Note Pt. 2: The Butler topped only two three-day weekends in a row. However, if one includes the four-day Labor Day weekend, The Butler would join Gravity and The Hobbit 2 as 2013's three-consecutive-weekend toppers. (On Labor Day weekend, the three-day winner was One Direction: This is Us.) Directed by Lee Daniels, The Butler stars Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, and features Terrence Howard, Jane Fonda, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Alex Pettyfer, John Cusack, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey, Robin Williams, and others.
Martin Freeman toplines 'The Hobbit 2' cast
The Hobbit 2's extensive cast features two-time Oscar nominee Ian McKellen (Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace, and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (the Best Supporting Actress winner of 2004, for playing Katharine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator).
Here are a few more: Mikael Persbrandt, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Oscar nominee Ian Holm (Chariots of Fire), veteran Christopher Lee (Dracula, The Wicker Man), Andy Serkis (King Kong, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Hugo Weaving, Billy Connolly, and William Kircher.
Last batch: Stephen Fry, John Bell, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O'Gorman, Mark Hadlow, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Jed Brophy, Luke Evans, Sylvester McCoy, and Jeffrey Thomas.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug photo: Warner Bros.