While The Hobbit will certainly top the box office for the second straight weekend with a gross in the $50 million range, a host of newcomers are going to fight over the leftovers this Christmas weekend.
Tom Cruise in the R-rated action drama Jack Reacher should wind up with a fairly soft (for Cruise) $15 to $17 million over the weekend with a second place finish while Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand in the maternal buddy road movie The Guilt trip (which opened with a less than stellar $1,029,734 on Wednesday) will likely finish the weekend with a gross in the low teens. This will put it in a dead heat with the "sort of sequel to Knocked Up," This is 40 starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann which will also grab a gross in the $10 to $12 million range.
Nipping at their heels or perhaps winding up in between these two live action films will be the Disney/Pixar re-release of the wildly popular animated family film Monsters Inc in 3D. As a great option for families who have had only Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph to satisfy their movie-going needs, this decade old hit will find a place in the top 5. This means that Rise of the Guardians, Lincoln and Skyfall will have to struggle to grab that fifth spot and make their mark this weekend.
Notably, Sony's acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty debuted in just 5 theaters on Wednesday with a very strong $124,848 for a per-theater average of $24,970. The strategy of platform releasing the film is a good one enabling the film to not only qualify for Oscar, but also to build buzz through awards season and then go wide on Jan. 11, 2013. The film is powerful, riveting and boasts an Oscar worthy performance by Jessica Chastain who is the heart and soul of the movie as she goes toe to toe with a male dominated cast.
Opening Friday is Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away in 3D in around 800 theaters which should post a modest weekend gross in the $2 million range (with limited showtimes) and Lionsgate's powerful action-drama The Impossible starring Ewan MacGregor and Naomi Watts in a story of the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
This, the second to last weekend of the year will kick off what is typically one of the strongest weeks of the year in movie theaters (in 2009 when Sherlock Holmes & Avatar dominated, the final week generated a record $500 million!). This year offers a crowded and comparatively slow marketplace dominated by The Hobbit yet offering a plethora of choices for the moviegoer. No matter since the box office year of 2012 will finish on Dec. 31 with record revenues of around $10.82 billion!
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