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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug pips Anchorman 2 to US top spot

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Story by Jack Foley

THE Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has pipped Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues to the top of the US box office.

Peter Jackson’s sequel retained in the top spot for a second week despite strong competition from the comedy team of Anchorman, taking $31.5 million compared to $26.8 million.

It means that The Hobbit has now taken $127.5 million in the US alone and well over $300 million globally.

However, Anchorman has impressed both critically and commercially. Opening on Wednesday in the US, the film has taken $40 million overall in the US and a further $13.4 million overseas, thereby tripling the entire lifetime gross of the first film. It cost $50 million to make.

Commenting on the film’s performance to date, Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore told The Hollywood Reporter: “We are in spectacular shape. And overseas, it has already destroyed the previous film’s entire international run. Overall, it’s a testament to how much work Will and Adam have done for this movie.”

Another successful opening came from American Hustle, which took $19.1 million to tie for third spot with Disney’s holdover Frozen.

American Hustle marks director David O Russell’s best US opening, beating Three Kings ($15.8 million) and The Fighter ($12.1 million).

The film, starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams, recounts the Abscam political scandal of the late 1970s and early ’80s, and is being viewed as a strong Oscar contender.

Rory Bruer, Sony president of worldwide distribution, said of the film’s start: “To start at $19 million the weekend before Christmas is incredible. American Hustle is one of those films where all the stars are aligned beautifully, and will be playing for months to come.”

Both Hustle and Anchorman are now expected to earn over $100 million in the US alone.

Rounding out the US top five, meanwhile, was Disney’s Saving Mr Banks, which recounts how classic family movie Mary Poppins made it to the big screen.

Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers, the film took $9.9 million, marginally below expectations.

The only real disappointment was the debut of CGI event film Walking With Dinosaurs, which took only $7.3 million in the US for eighth spot despite costing $80 million to make. The film fared little better overseas, where it took $13.8 million from 40 markets, led by the UK’s $1.6 million.

Adapted from the BBC mini-series, Walking With Dinosaurs has no human cast and tells the story of Patchi, an underdog dinosaur who transforms into a hero. It features the voices of Justin Long and John Leguizamo.

Next story: Vin Diesel to play Groot in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy