Box Office Prediction: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ vs. ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

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Hobbit 2 vs. Catching Fire Box Office Prediction: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug vs. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Welcome to the Screen Rant Box Office Prediction. Every week we put together an informal list of box office picks for the upcoming weekend – in collaboration with the Screen Rant Underground podcast Box Office Battle – to offer readers a rough estimate of how new releases (and returning holdovers) will perform in theaters.

For a recap of last week’s box office totals, read our box office wrap-up from Out of the Furnace‘s opening weekend – and scroll to the bottom of this post to see how our previous picks measured up.

Full disclosure: Box office predictions are not an exact science. We acknowledge that our picks may not always be correct. For the sake of offering a jumping off point for discussion, here are our picks for the weekend of December 13 – 15, 2013.

This weekend, fantasy sequel The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens in over 3,900 theaters and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas debuts in 2,100 theaters. American Hustle sees a limited release of six theaters and Saving Mr. Banks gets a limited opening of 14 theaters.


#1 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Once again, our readers should get an automatic three points, as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is here to conquer the box office. Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga is one of the most popular film franchises of all-time and the first film of this prequel trilogy continued the series’ commercial success. Grossing over $303 million during its domestic run, An Unexpected Journey made $84.6 million during its opening weekend and this sequel is projected to put up similar numbers.

The lukewarm reception of the first Hobbit film may have dampened the expectations of some moviegoers, but that won’t be enough to prevent it from finishing first. Early reviews have indicated that the sequel improves upon its predecessor, and that will excite Tolkien fans and casual audiences alike.

hobbit desolation smaug bilbo baggins Box Office Prediction: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug vs. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

#2 – Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

Look for this week’s other wide release, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas to come in second. Despite a mostly negative critical response, the Madea franchise has consistently found an audience at the box office, peaking with 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail (opening at over $41 million domestically).

The most recent film, Madea’s Witness Protection, saw those numbers slip a bit, opening to $25.3 million en route to a $65.6 million domestic total, but the timely nature of this film could help Madea Christmas surpass that. Also, the presence of The Hobbit will certainly take away business from holdovers such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, providing an opportunity for Perry’s latest to move up in the charts.

#3 – Frozen

Look for last week’s champ, Frozen (read our review), to drop to third this week. Disney’s latest animated hit has had a lucrative run so far, grossing $31.6 million last weekend to up its domestic total to $134.2 million. As the only kid-friendly option in the market, it should continue to do solid business throughout the month.

#4 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Our choice for the fourth spot is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (read our review). The highly anticipated young adult adaptation certainly lived up to the hype, quickly becoming one of 2013’s highest grossing releases (it currently sits at third on the yearly domestic chart), but its reign over the box office is over. Last week, it was overtaken by Frozen and it continues to come behind the animated film in the daily numbers. Fans of the franchise could still turn up, but with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug becoming the new go-to event film, this film will continue to fall.

Jennifer Lawerence and Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games Catching Fire Box Office Prediction: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug vs. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

#5 – Out of the Furnace

Our pick to round out the top five is Out of the Furnace (read our review). The sophomore offering from director Scott Cooper failed to find an audience during its opening weekend, grossing only $5.2 million during its first three days.

#10 – The Book Thief

Our tiebreaker for this week is The Book Thief (read our review), which finished in seventh place last week.


Two more awards hopefuls make their public debuts on Friday, but we remind our readers that it’s only in a limited capacity. David O. Russell’s latest, American Hustle, is out in six theaters while Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks is released in 14 theaters. We expect both of these films to post healthy numbers when they go wide on December 20 – but right now, they won’t crack the top five or work as a tiebreaker choice.

That’s it for this week’s breakdown.


Screen Rant Underground Podcast Header Box Office Prediction: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug vs. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Now, if you want to participate in the weekly Box Office Battle, it’s time for you to make your picks! In the comments section below, post what you think will be the top five movies this weekend at the box office as well as your own number ten tiebreaker. Then, tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the results and find out who won.

Opening in theaters this week (Wide):

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 3,900+ theaters
  • Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas – 2,100 theaters

Opening in theaters this week (Limited):

  • American Hustle – 6 theaters
  • Saving Mr. Banks – 14 theaters

Box Office Battle Scoring Rules: You get three (3) points for each direct match with the weekend actuals and one (1) point for each movie placed within one spot of the exact position. A perfect score is 15 points. Tie-breakers are not worth any points but, in the event of a tie, the person with a tie-breaker selection closest to the number 10 spot will be awarded the win.

Last Week’s Official Box Office Battle Reader Winner (Out of the Furnaces opening): Sal reports that ParrJr won with a score of 13 points.

For the record, here are our picks from last week – along with the corresponding amount of points we received for each pick (listed in parenthesis).

  • #1 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (1)
  • #2 – Frozen (1)
  • #3 – Out of the Furnace (3)
  • #4 – Thor: The Dark World (3)
  • #5 – The Best Man Holiday (0)
  • #10 – The Book Thief
  • Final Score: 8 points


Make sure to check back later this week for the official box office results and tune into the Screen Rant Underground podcast for the weekly winners!

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90

Source: Box Office Mojo (Release Schedule)

Follow Chris Agar on Twitter @ChrisAgar90
TAGS: Box office
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    • 1)Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
      2)Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas
      5)Out of the Furnace

      End of Line!

  1. Got to QC the hobbit 2 at my theater last night. While it offered some exhilarating action sequences and one great CGI creature, the movie fell very flat for me. The movie was unnecessary, and when it ended I left with a giant who cares. This wasn’t like most middle films like The Empire Strikes Back, the desolation of smaug did nothing for the overall arch of the story. There was an unnecessary love triangle with a made up character, and legolas return was lukewarm at best. While it’s “Better” than part one, its not necessarily good or convincing. It didn’t make me believe that 3 films were good for the series. Its better paced with better action so everyone will praise how amazing it is, but from a storytelling standpoint its pretty poor.

    • Considering you constantly bash the first film, why should anyone listen to your opinion on the new one? You knew going in that you were going to hate it and therefore you didn’t even give it a chance. I thought the first film was fantastic and I am looking forward to seeing this one (as are LOTS of people that I know), so keep bashing all you want, this movie is going to ROCK.

      • @AndyS
        You are a hypocrite. You blame people for not “giving it a chance,” that people “knew they were going to hate it.”

        Can it possibly be that the film does have obvious faults and that you are predisposed to say nothing but good things about it? You are just as disillusioned as the other guy. But keep believing that jumping the bandwagon automatically means the movie will be good.

        • @Marcus..

          I haven’t been on here bashing the first film for a year like Trey has. He’s made his contempt of the film plain from even before it was released. Do you even know what hypocrite means? In case you don’t, it means “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings”. Tell me where in my post I said something contrary to my previous opinions on the movie? I didn’t blame “people” for not giving the film a chance, I said TREY didn’t give the movie a chance because he was predisposed towards not liking the film due to the PAST YEAR of posts on this site. Meanwhile, I said that I LOVED the first film and I am looking forward to seeing this one. I WILL probably like it because I really enjoy what Peter Jackson has done with Tolkien’s works thus far.

          • Cause these films are trash compared to the original trilogy. I gave it positives as well as negatives, but because i disliked it then i must be against it completely. Last time i checked it doesn’t have a 100% in RT many people do and will dislike the film. Do you plan on attacking all of them as well? Yes I bashed the original cause it was a poor excuse of a film for a director who CRAFTED 3 great LOTR films. Key word is crafted, elaborate costumes and sets, now we are given CGI as if Peter Jackson gave up on trying. Say what you want, enjoy the action beats there is a hell of a barrel scene but the film from a storytelling point of view and craftsmanship lacks.

            Also who said I was trying to persuade anyone to agree with me? I was ranting as the site is called screen rant. I never one said Hey, my opinion is right and you should agree with me.

            • According to the RT rating that you yourself site (as of Wed. night, 73%), most people will like, not dislike, the film.

              By the way, An Unexpected Journey, which you have claimed was poor over and over again, also got a higher rating, by both critics and fans, than Man of Steel…not to mention about twice as much money.

              Must be terrible for you, Trey.

      • I agree, Andy. Trey has done nothing BUT go out of his way to complain about The Hobbit, Peter Jackosn, et. al., under multiple discussions. I have my doubts if he even saw the Desolation of Smaug. If I so hated a movie, I certanly wouldn’t spend money on it.

        • QC jeff…. QC as in Quality check. when you work at a movie theater you get to do that, for free. I see most movies each year for that very reason.

    • I haven’t seen Hobbit yet, but I agree with what Trey says ^. Splitting a short kids book into three over-bloated epic three-hour movies is a total cash grab and is not a very good artistic choice. I am already annoyed by the love interest Tauriel, the theme-park influenced barrel scene, and the deliberate changes to the pivotal Smaug scene. Disappointed.

      • Ah, what movie hasn’t been made to make money? What movie hasn’t differed in some way from the book on which it was based? And being that the first film made over a billion dollars worldwide, why wasn’t it a good artist choice to make the story into a trilogy?

        Oh…because YOU think so.

    • From what I’ve been reading online and from people who have already seen it, they have expressed that although it’s a huge improvement from the first Hobbit film, it still has some issues. One person said it best though that it’s a kids movie in the end and if you are expecting a LOTR type of experience then you will be disappointed. I would say that 2/3 of the reviews/blogs I’ve read has praised the movie saying they improved things in the movie so much so that you really don’t notice the length of the movie. Also the HFR has been improved with the 3D and it makes use of that technology in this movie rather nicely. The White Orc though still has its issues but seeing/hearing Smaug in IMAX makes up for everything because “that first scene in which you hear Smaug is rather epic”.
      Based on reviews and some word of mouth already I plan on seeing this film at least a couple of times at the big screen. I can’t wait and feel pretty pumped just thinking about that Smaug scene, lol

  2. 1. The Hobbit
    2. Frozen
    3. Madea Christmas
    4. Hunger Games
    5. Out of the Furnace
    10. Best Man Holiday

  3. who is funding Tyler Perry?…who actually believes in him enough to say “take 20 or 30 mill and go at it”

    • If I read correctly Tyler Perry funds Tyler Perry. Last year or 2011 he was the highest paid man in entertainment. Due to his multiple television shows and movies. He is reported as to earning over 100 million a year, and has a net worth of 400 million. So yeah, he isn’t going anywhere cause he pays for himself…

    • It’s a well kept secret that Madea is the actual real life person and she dresses up as Tyler Perry, a charismatic, business savvy movie producer to more effectively convince studio execs to finance movies starring herself.