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.

Bilbo (Martin Freeman) in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

#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.

#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

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 Furnace's 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)

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