The Hobbit holds off Anchorman 2 at the US box office

 

On a busy pre-Christmas weekend at the box office, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug held off a very different sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Peter Jackson's Hobbit sequel took in $31.5 million (£19 million) in its second weekend of release for Warner Bros., according to studio estimates on Sunday. Though the film isn't matching the pace of the first Hobbit movie, An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug is doing well abroad. It's now made more than $400 million (£245 million) worldwide, including $96 million (£58 million) internationally over the weekend.

The Hobbit topped Will Ferrell's Anchorman sequel, which nevertheless opened strongly in second place. The Paramount Pictures comedy made $26.8 million (£16 million) over the three-day weekend and $40 million (£25 million) since opening Tuesday night.

The much-marketed Anchorman 2 actually outperformed The Hobbit on Friday, but failed to best it over Saturday and Sunday. But the $50 million comedy, which Paramount initially turned down, also suggested it will be more popular abroad than most comedies. It made $13.4 million in six international markets.

"Anchorman will have a much larger footprint internationally than the last Anchorman did," said Don Harris, head of domestic distribution for Paramount. "Will Ferrell has done a really good job of turning this character into something that travels around the world."

David O. Russell's fictionalization of the 1970s Abscam political corruption investigation American Hustle earned a robust $19.1 million in its first week of nationwide expansion. The Sony Pictures film, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, got a boost from its co-leading seven Golden Globes nominations.

 

"It's such a crowd-pleaser as well as a critical hit," said Sony's distribution head Rory Bruer. "We have so much more to look forward to, including Christmas Day."

The pre-Christmas weekend is a sought-after release date, one that usually offers films especially good legs at the box office as moviegoers flood theaters over the coming weeks. The weekend box office was up nearly 30 percent over the same weekend last year.

But this year's holiday frame will be particularly competitive. The crowded field of movie openings Wednesday includes Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone comedy Grudge Match, the Justin Bieber documentary Justin Bieber's Believe and Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin.

AP

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