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Hobbit maintains No. 1 in weak pre-Christmas round

The Hobbit suffered a steep drop in attendance in its second week but held onto its number one spot in the US and internationally.

Facing competition from five new major US releases, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey held on to its number one spot on the US charts with $36.7 million for the weekend as well as the international charts with $91 million, bringing its domestic total to $149.9 million and its worldwide to $433.9 million. Despite the prodigious figure, the US weekend gross represents a 57 percent drop for the fantasy epic, and the first sign that it is tracking behind both Lord of the Rings films The Two Towers and Return of the King, and earnings may have been disproportionately front-loaded.

In second place in the US was crime drama Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise as the titular hero. The film opened to $15.6 million in the US, about half of what Cruise’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol earned in its first weekend. However, given that the Christmas lead-in is a notoriously slow time as films compete with holiday preparations, the number represents a decent start, especially complemented by good critical reviews. Jack Reacher is an adaptation of Lee Child’s 2005 novel One Shot, and opens in the UK the day after Christmas. So far it has earned $2.5 million in just eight territories abroad.

This Is 40, the new comedy release from writer-director Judd Apatow, ranked third in the US with $12 million. The film was advertised as the “sorta-kinda” sequel to Apatow’s 2007 Knocked Up, and stars two of that film’s supporting leads, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. This Is 40 received middling reviews, but its numbers are also likely anemic due to the tough release date. A UK release is scheduled for February.

Rise of the Guardians held on in its fifth week with $5.9 million in the US and ranked fourth, while overseas it took in $23.2 million and ranked third. The holiday-themed DreamWorks Animation offering has a worldwide gross of $222.6 million to date.

Lincoln continued to impress critics and audiences and rounded out the top five in the US with $5.6 million. The UK release will be in late January.

The Guilt Trip, a comedy starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen as a roadtripping mother and son, floundered with just $5.4 million on the weekend in sixth place. The film garnered largely negative reviews and marks the lowest haul ever for a Seth Rogen nationwide release. This was Streisand’s first starring role since 1996’s The Mirror Has Two Faces.

Seventh in the US was Monsters, Inc. 3D which earned just $5 million, less than half of any other Disney 3D re-release, suggesting that audiences are getting wise to the limited benefits of paying to see a remastered 3D film in cinemas that already exists on DVD and Blu-ray.

Finally, Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away opened in eleventh place in the US with just $2.1 million. James Cameron produced the 3D compilation of various Cirque performances.

Holdovers dominated the top spots on the international charts, with Life of Pi ranking second and earning $23.2 million abroad, followed by Rise of the Guardians in third and Skyfall in fourth with $9 million. Wreck-It Ralph finished fifth with $7.3 million, while Twilight finally fell from the top five and placed sixth with $6.6 million.

Christmas day will see the US releases of three more major films – epic musical update Les Miserables, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, and Billy Crystal comedy Parental Guidance, bringing the studio holiday release slate to an incredible eight films. Cinemas should have boosted attendance in the wake of Christmas morning.

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