Paramount's official Friday estimate for Anchorman 2 is $8.7 million, putting the sequel on track for a three-day weekend of $28.5 million. Combined with Wednesday's and Thursday's grosses, that would give the flick a decent $41.7 million five-day start. The hyper-marketed comedy retained first place on Friday by an estimated margin of less than $100,000 over The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. BoxOffice projects the second Hobbit pic will retain first place for the weekend as a whole.
Early word of mouth for Anchorman 2 appears to be a mixed bag. Following its "B" CinemaScore on Wednesday, 74 percent of Flixster users approve of or are anticipating seeing the film.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug earned $8.61 million yesterday, representing a 72.4 percent drop from last Thursday/Friday's opening and bringing its domestic total to $104.65 million--about 15.1 percent behind the pace of An Unexpected Journey. The drop is in line with last year's Journey (72.9 percent), although that flick faced considerably less competition at the time. Look for Smaug to post a $31.5 million sophomore weekend as it retains first place in its second frame.
Sony reports that American Hustle swiped a strong $6.3 million yesterday as it expanded into nationwide release. The David O. Russell-helmed pic is on pace for a projected $19.2 million weekend. By comparison, The Fighter earned $3.94 million on its first day (toward a $12.1 million weekend) in nationwide release when it followed a similar release pattern in 2010. The awards contender should play well through the holidays with buzz from its Golden Globes nominations on top of very healthy word of mouth. Hustle's Flixster score currently sits at 88 percent.
Frozen continues to impress nearly one full month into its release. The animated hit added $5.12 million to its haul on Friday, marking a slight bump from the same day last week and bringing the toon's domestic tally up to $177.5 million. The flick is currently pacing about 21 percent ahead of 1999's Toy Story 2, which ultimately grossed $245.9 million domestically.
Disney's Saving Mr. Banks cashed in $2.96 million as it also went into its nationwide expansion on Friday. BoxOffice projects the well-reviewed family-friendly drama will post a $9.2 million weekend, setting it up for a leggy holiday run in the same vein as 2011's We Bought a Zoo. Buzz for Banks has largely been driven by Emma Thompson's performance and Tom Hanks' portrayal of the iconic Walt Disney, a combination which should continue attracting older audiences into the new year. Reception appears strong thus far with 90 percent of Flixster users anticipating or approving of the film.
Lastly, Fox's Walking with Dinosaurs managed a soft $2.3 million start yesterday and is projected to earn around $7.8 million for the weekend. The CG animation is attempting to counter-program toward families with young children. Unfortunately, Disney's Frozen and Warner's Hobbit sequel are taking the lion's share of that audience going into Christmas week. Dinosaurs could pick up in the days ahead with more families coming out each day, but early word of mouth seems quite weak with a 56 percent Flixster score (down from an 86 percent pre-release anticipation level).
Additional reporting by Daniel Garris