Weekend Box Office: 'The Desolation of Smaug' Stands Victorious Over 'Anchorman 2'

Viacom and Time Warner fought hard for the top spot at this weekend's box office. Properties from Disney, Sony, and Lionsgate also turned in decent performances.

Time Warner's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug topped Anchorman 2 at the weekend box office.

Despite an impressive Friday evening start, Ron Burgundy just couldn't manage to oust the veritable Smaug from atop his box office hoard this weekend.

Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIAB  ) mustache-laden Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues earned an impressive $8.745 million in its first Friday, narrowly edging out the $8.655 million garnered by Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  )  big-budget holdover, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

When all was said and done, however, Anchorman 2 had to settle for second place thanks to a late-weekend surge by Smaug. As it stands, Time Warner indicates Smaug's second-weekend domestic haul arrived at just under $31.5 million, compared with a perfectly respectable $26.8 million cume for Viacom's comedy.

In fact, that brings Smaug's worldwide gross to a staggering $403.8 million so far, more than 68% of which came from international viewers as the film continued its global roll-out. This also easily covers Time Warner's estimated $220 million production budget for the second big-screen installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's most famous work, leaving little doubt it should be wildly profitable for everyone involved.

But don't shed any tears for the Anchorman crew; Viacom "only" spent $50 million to bring their hilarious sequel to the big screen, and remember at least part of its late-weekend slouch can be blamed on the fact it technically launched on Wednesday. Including pre-weekend sales, Anchorman 2 has already raked in roughly $40 million from domestic audiences alone.

Anchorman and Smaug weren't alone...

As I also reminded readers Friday, let's not forget this weekend held no shortage of other worthy competitors.

Most notably, Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Frozen held up remarkably well during its fourth weekend in wide release, falling just 15.1% to an estimated $19.16 million. All told, Frozen has earned more than $344 million worldwide, more than doubling Disney's lofty $150 million budget for the animated hit.

Meanwhile, and despite appearing on just 2,507 screens -- that's over 1,000 fewer than each of the above-mentioned films -- Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) Pictures' critically acclaimed American Hustle turned in a dominant $19.1 million in its wide release debut.

By comparison, Disney's 2,100-screen effort with Saving Mr. Banks yielded just $9.3 million in the U.S. Keep in mind, however, polled audiences also gave Saving Mr. Banks a rare "A" CinemaScore, indicating it should benefit from positive word of mouth going forward. And Banks has also earned another $5.5 million internationally to date, bringing it significantly closer to recouping Disney's $35 million budget for the intriguing feature, which explores the working relationship between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers.

Finally, two Lionsgate's  (NYSE: LGF  ) films in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas rounded out sixth and seventh place, respectively. 

Catching Fire dropped around 36% over the same week-ago period, adding another $8.75 million in its fifth weekend for a huge domestic total of $371.7 million. All told, Lionsgate's $130 million blockbuster has grossed an amazing $765.3 million globally so far, well ahead of the first Hunger Games' $691.2 million take last year.

By contrast, A Madea Christmas fell nearly 47% to grab $8.51 million in its own second weekend, good for a domestic-only total of $28.28 million so far. That may sound reasonable for a film that only cost Lionsgate around $25 million to make, but remember that each of the four previous Madea movies enjoyed first-weekend sales of at least $25 million. This in mind, I also wouldn't be surprised if A Madea Christmas enjoyed a temporary resurgence this week given its holiday theme.

The rest of week's winners should also likely benefit from a reasonably quiet holiday schedule going forward, with the largest wide releases coming on Christmas in the form of News Corp's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Time Warner's sports comedy Grudge Match, and Comcast Universal's 47 Ronin -- none of which appear to pose any significant threat to the likes of Smaug, Anchorman 2, or Frozen.

I'll be sure touch base later this week to see how the numbers are turning out. In the meantime just sit back, enjoy the show, and happy holidays!

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