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YOUR WEAK-END BOX OFFICE: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug pulled down nearly $74 million in its debut weekend, easily scoring #1 in the box-office sweepstakes, although its tally (the fourth best for this date ever) trails that of the first Hobbit flick, the December record holder with $84.6m. Another debut, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, also made the Top 5, with 16m. But the real story, at least outside Middle Earth, is the impact of the Golden Globes noms on a number of critical faves, notably debuting ’70s caper American Hustle, which discoed off with 690k on just six screens—a staggering $115k per-venue average, the fifth-best ever for a live-action movie. Acclaimed flicks like Nebraska (+63%), All Is Lost (+53%) and Blue Jasmine (+269%) also spiked. Philomena was down just 20% in its fourth week, having already earned $11m. Another recipient of multiple Globe nods, Dallas Buyers Club, finished just outside the Top 10 with another 1.1m haul, while Inside Llewyn Davis, in its second frame, averaged an impressive $23k per screen in limited release.

  1. The Hobbit: The Desolation … Warner Bros. $73.6m 3,903/$18,877 avg. (debut)
  2. Frozen  Disney $22.1m  (-29.8%) 3,716/$5,970 avg. (week 4)
  3. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas Lionsgate $16m 2,194/$7,293 avg. (debut)
  4. Hunger Games: Catching Fire Lionsgate $13.1m (-49.8%) 3,563/$3,691 avg. (week 4)
  5. Thor: The Dark World  Disney  $2.7m (-43.9%) 2,264/$1,193 avg. (week 6)

In other news from the movie world, we bid farewell to three very different stars who departed over the weekend. Peter O'Toole, whose performances in Lawrence of Arabia and other classics redefined "dashing." died at 81; Tom Laughlin, best known as the writer, director and star of the Billy Jack series, passed away at 82; and Joan Fontaine, star of Hitchcock's Suspicion and Rebecca, among many other films, died at 96.  (12/16a)

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