'Hobbit' rules legion of holiday newcomers at theaters

4:33 PM, Dec 29, 2013   |    comments
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Hollywood offered a bounty of new films over the Christmas weekend, but holdovers refused to give up their seats at the buffet.

Peter Jackson's adaptation The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug took the crown, fending off five high-profile films this weekend, including Leonardo DiCpario's The Wolf of Wall Street and Keanu Reeves47 Ronin.

Hobbit collected $29.8 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. The second installment of the trilogy has done $190.3 million since its release Dec. 13.

While Hobbit led a legion of holdover movies that crowded the top spots, the spate of Christmas films - which included eight releases - will likely propel Hollywood to a box-office record just shy of $11 billion when year-end sales are tallied this week.

But there's no stealing Hobbit's thunder. Gitesh Pandya, analyst for Boxofficeguru.com, says that while studios offered plenty of choices this weekend, when it came to a holiday film laden with special effects, Hollywood rolled out little, "and those wanting 3-D special effects and fantasy adventure already have The Hobbit."

Kids, meanwhile, have Frozen, which is playing strong after more than a month in theaters. The Disney animated comedy did $28.9 million, good for second place. The film, featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, has earned $248.4 million since its release last month.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues did $20.2 million, good for third place.American Hustle, the David O. Russell film building awards momentum, took fourth place with $19.6 million, a strong performance. The film has done $60 million overall since its Dec. 13 release.

Among the newcomers, only Wolf cracked the top five, doing $18.5 million. Analysts projected about $21 million for the Martin Scorsese drama. The movie also was the only picture among wide releases to get a thumbs-up from critics. The three-hour Oscar hopeful earned an approval rating of 76% among reviewers, according toRotten Tomatoes. But the film earned only a "C" grade from audiences, saysCinemaScore, a sign the film could face trouble in the coming weeks.

Other major newcomers included Ben Stiller's comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which took seventh place with $13 million, and Keanu Reeves' martial arts drama 47 Ronin, which landed at No. 9 with $9.9 million.

Grudge Match, the boxing comedy that paired Stallone with Robert De Niro, managed just $7.3 million, well out of the top 10.

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