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Whisper Numbers: The Hobbit set to rule them all.

After having its rights held up for decades in litigation and then bankruptcy, the feature adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [HOBIT] finally hits the big screen; and not just in plain 24fps 2D, but also in 3D, IMAX, and not to mention, in the HFR of 48fps for the first time ever.  Nearly a decade after completely The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Oscar-winning Peter Jackson [PJACK] returns to direct the prequel story The Hobbit, which itself has been split into a new trilogy. The first film brings back many of the familiar characters from LOTR including those played by Ian McKellen [IMCKE], Cate Blanchett [CBLAN], Elijah Wood [EWOOD] and Andy Serkis [ASERK].  Middle-Earth newcomer Martin Freeman [MFREE] stars as young Bilbo Baggins, while Richard Armitage [RARMI] joins as the leader of the 12 dwarves.

2003’s The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King opened on a Wednesday and earned $72.6 million over its first weekend.  2007’s I Am Legend holds the weekend record for December at $77.2 million, while 2009’s Avatar is second at $77.0 million. The Hobbit should have no problem setting a new record based on ticket price inflation alone. The question is how big will be the victory margin? Reviews for the PG-13 rated film have not been as great as the original trilogy, with many critics complaining about the artifice of the HFR version. However, that’s not likely to matter to the Tolkien fanbase. Warner Bros.’ marketing has made sure The Hobbit doesn’t lack for awareness and interest, but will casual moviegoers be too busy with holiday festivities to spend 3 hours at the multiplex?  Advance ticket sales are better than Avatar, but sellouts are nowhere near the level of other fantasy series that debut over $100 million. Opening in 4045 theaters, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey could start off with $96 million.

Despite a slow start over Thanksgiving, Rise of the Guardians [GURDN] has held steady. With little competition for families with young children, the animated film should remain in second place with $6 million.

Skyfall is still flying high heading in its sixth weekend. 007 looks to stay in the top three with another $5.5 million to its franchise record sum.

That’s the whisper from the virtual trading floor.



Tag(s): HOBIT, PJACK, IMCKE, CBLAN, EWOOD, ASERK, MFREE, RARMI, GURDN

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By Box Office Whisperer on Thursday, December 13, 2012 @ 04:26 PM 5773 views

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