'The Hobbit' tops 'Anchorman' sequel at weekend box office

Sun Dec 22, 2013 3:33pm EST
 
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By Lisa Richwine and Chris Michaud

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dwarves and hobbits of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" proved too much for the much-publicized sequel "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," as the hit fantasy film topped movie charts in the United States and Canada for a second straight week, earning $31.5 million over the weekend.

Kicking off Hollywood's year-end push of high-profile movie releases, the "Anchorman" crew led by Will Ferrell was unable to dethrone last week's winner and took in $26.8 million for the No. 2 spot, according to sales estimates from Rentrak.

Oscar-contending crime drama "American Hustle" grabbed the No. 4 slot, racking up $19.1 million, just behind Disney's animated hit, "Frozen" which took in $19.2 million.

"Anchorman" opened on Wednesday following a months-long marketing onslaught and rang up a five-day total of $40 million through Sunday. Ferrell appeared in character seemingly everywhere as the self-important Ron Burgundy, pitching the Dodge Durango in TV ads, interviewing Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning for ESPN The Magazine and co-anchoring a local newscast in Nebraska.

The campaign reintroduced Burgundy a decade after the original "Anchorman" in 2004. The first film took in a solid $90 million at worldwide box offices and gained popularity on DVD to become a cult classic.

In the sequel, the former San Diego anchor joins a cable news channel startup in 1980s New York. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner return as members of his wacky news team.

Box office forecasters predicted "Anchorman 2" would bring in $35 million to $40 million from Friday through Sunday. The movie cost $50 million to make.

"Forty million over five days is a sensational start," said Don Harris, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount Pictures, the Viacom Inc unit that released the film, adding that was in line with studio expectations.   Continued...

 
Cast and crew members pose for photographers at the premiere of the film "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" in Los Angeles December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten