Box Office: 'Desolation of Smaug' Burns up 'Frozen'; 'A Madea Christmas' Opens Small

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- $73.6M
The middle chapter of Peter Jackson's latest Tolkien trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, opened strong with $73.6M, performing well in midnight sneaks and IMAX, which accounted for $9M of the total. The film even did well overseas, as the New Zealand-based production was expected to, adding another $53M to the total. So what's the problem? Well, detractors will be quick to point out that the domestic debit is $11M less than An Unexpected Journey last year, although this isn't too surprising. Many considered that film a disappointment, so some hold-over was anticipated. You won't hear Jackson complaining, though, as the film moves into 4th place on the all-time list for December premieres.
2. Frozen- $22.1M/$164.3M
3. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas- $16M
Perhaps creeped out by an ad campaign with kids sitting on Madea's lap, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas opened to the smallest debut ever for a Madea film at $16M. These movies have long had a very loyal, dedicated audience who turn out annually for junk like Madea's Witness Protection and Madea Goes to Jail to an average $25M opening. And yet somehow Perry couldn't make this work even with the holiday theme, suggesting some of the sheen is coming off his favored character. Still, these movies don't cost much and generally do strong business on DVD/Blu-Ray, so Perry and Lionsgate aren't sweating this.
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire- $13.1M/$356.9M
5. Thor: The Dark World- $2.7M/$198.1M
6. Out of the Furnace- $2.3M/$9.4M
7. Delivery Man- $1.8M/$27.9M
8.  Philomena- $1.7M/$11M
9. The Book Thief- $1.67M/$14.8M
10. Homefront- $1.63M/$18.4M

It was a pretty good weekend for two major movies in limited release. First is American Hustle, the star-studded ABSCAM caper from David O. Russell scoring $690K in only six sites. Disney's Mary Poppins biopic Saving Mr. Banks performed less well, perhaps because its audience was at American Hustle, earning $421K at 15 theaters.