Hanging on to no. 1 by the skin of its teeth Friday night was Paramount Pictures' "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues." The surreal comedy found another $8.7 million for $21.9 million in its first three days. At this point, Ron Burgandy's return looks like it will earn about $38-40 million for its first five days. That's significantly below the $70 million pre-release polling indicated just a week ago. At a budget of $50 million if "Anchorman 2" can clear $100 million domestic and comparable overseas it will still be a solid profit center for Paramount.
Warner Bros. and MGM's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" was right behind in second place. The latest installment in Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" series crossed the $100 million mark domestically with another $8.6 million for $104.6 million in just 8 days.
David O. Russell's "American Hustle" expanded to 2,507 theaters and earned $6.3 million for what looks like a $18 million three-day. That's a strong expansion for the R-rated Golden Globe nominated drama. It will face more direct competition on Christmas Day when "The Wolf of Wall Street" debuts. At this point though, however, "Hustle" is on track for at least $60 million through New Year's Day.
Best Animated Feature frontrunner "Frozen" continues its excellent run in fourth with another $5.1 million and $177.5 million to date. It will easily cross the $200 million mark by the end of the year.
Walt Disney Studios' "Saving Mr. Banks" also expanded to 2,110 theaters for $2.9 million and what could be a $8 million weekend. The female-skewing dramedy should increase its numbers after the last shopping and traveling weekend of the Christmas season.
20th Century Fox's "Walking with Dinosaurs" had a weak first day with just $2.1 million in over 3,000 screens.
Look for continuing box office updates throughout the weekend and holidays on HitFix.