This past weekend Lincoln increased its theater count and as a result passed Argo to become 2012’s highest grossing of the Oscar contenders so far. Still to come, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained. The Hobbit broke box office records in its opening, and The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers remain the year’s highest grossing films overall.

The big question with Django Unchained is whether the recent mass shootings will impact the box office at all, or if audiences will still have a taste for the bloodbath that is Django Unchained. Similarly, Zero Dark Thirty’s scenes of torture could prove off-putting to some, especially (apparently) women. But as of yet, no one knows anything. Good word of mouth and Oscar buzz for both films could drive them to strong box office returns.

The Dark Knight Rises – $448,139,099
Skyfall – $272,366,000
Lincoln – $107,898,000
Argo – $104,930,000
Flight – $89,448,000
Life of Pi –  $69,559,000
Looper -$66,300,000
Moonrise Kingdom – $45,512,466
Silver Linings Playbook – $16,954,000 (still in 371 theaters)
Beasts of the Southern Wild – $11,249,128

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  • Tero Heikkinen

    Seems to me that Les Mis is the only one of the three that will pass Lincoln in Domestic BO. Lincoln will make at least 130M, that’s a certainty and Django Unchained may have a trouble reaching that. Zero Dark Thirty has no chance getting that kind of number.

    Uneducated guess (Domestic only):

    Les Mis: 160M
    Lincoln: 135M
    Django Unchained: 120M
    Argo: 110M
    Life of Pi: 85M
    Zero Dark Thirty: 75M
    Silver Linings Playbook: 20M

  • phantom

    Hopefully with the Holiday Bump, ‘Lincoln’ will end over 140M and ‘Pi’ will reach 100M, latter has been doing spectacularly on the international circuit and will probably EASILY end its run over 300M worldwide. Skyfall is looking good for 300M DOM and 1B WW.

    I gave a lot of crap to ‘Playbook’ for ‘underperforming’ in limited release, but I have to say, even if I still firmly believe its debut was disappointing, its staying power is rather impressive. NOW I can see it ending up with Sideways/Descendants numbers (70-90M), and considering we are talking about a film that can count on the famous Weinstein-push, I wouldn’t be shocked to see it reach 100M, either, it WILL end the year around 25-30M already even without expansions, ONLY in those 300-400 theaters.

    The tracking suggests ‘Les Miserables’ will be a big hit (20M+ OW, 100M+ DOM), and frankly, unless those scores start improving dramatically (the very least 75+ RT/ 65+ MC) it WILL need strong business to stay in the race. Still, if it delivers 100M+ in the US, it could easily reach 300M+ WW which would be excellent considering the 60M-pricetag.

    I have no idea what to expect from ‘ZD30’ : it has great buzz and all the Oscar-talk and nominations should guarantee at least a 10-12M OW in January and a 50M+ domestic total, but I would love to see it double those numbers (20M+ OW, 100M+ DOM). It would be nice to see a serious actress like Chastain headlining a 100M+ drama hit.

    ‘Django’ is a critically acclaimed star-studded Tarantino-film, so I guess it should be able to deliver ‘Basterds’ worldwide numbers, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dragontattooesque slow start and then a leggy run, it’s not like the Holiday-crowd will rush to see a violent western on Christmas Day. We’ll see!

  • Jerry

    @Tero: Silver Linings Playbook has already made $17 Million in only 371 theaters. it hasn’t even started expanding. It had the second highest per screen average of the top ten films and the lowest drop (4%) of the holdovers. Your $20 Million total is too low.

    >Lincoln I think could get up to $150 Million easy.

    > Zero Dark Thirty: $75 Million is too high. I think it will be $50 Million.

  • Jerry

    The Hobbit’s record this weekend is weak. It only beat Will Smith’s film by $7 million with premium surcharges and higher ticket prices. Combine with the so-so reviews I think it’s not going to make BP. I think it’s going to have a big drop next week.

  • John

    In any case, it’s nice to see that Lincoln and Argo will be well north of 100.
    Les Miserables has a great shot at that.
    Possibly Django.
    Silver Linings will do well after expansions.
    Life of Pi will make 80-90, if not more.
    Moonrise and Best Exotic did fabulous in the 45 range.
    ZD30 has b.o. potential (thats the biggest question mark).
    The Impossible is killing it overseas.
    And of course, other potential BPs are Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, Hobbit as b.o. Juggernauts.

    I’m happy that the public will/have embraced the contenders. Always nice to see.

  • A.J

    The Hobbit got an A from CinemaScore, it’s not having a big drop off. December films just don’t open big. I’m currently piles of books deep studying for finals as are many college age students- all of us grew up on LotR so should be the perfect movie to get home to. Not there’s any such thing as “spots” but if anything is getting the “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” spot it’s “The Hobbit.” Critically dismissed so off the radar.

  • Bball_Jake

    @Sasha: Id really like to read a review from you on The Hobbit. After letting The Hobbit sit, I realized that I really love the movie. No its not The Lord of the Rings, and yes it has some flaws here and there, but once I stopped comparing it to Lotr, its really enjoyable. I loved the long running time and the first hour that all the critics complained about, was a great introduction to Bilbo and the dwarves! And Martin Freeman was perfect as Bilbo. My second favorite film of the year!

  • I’ve been thinking more and more that Zero Dark Thirty’s box office potential is strong enough to push it at least a little close to $100 million than that, Tero.

    I doubt, though, phantom, that Life of Pi has it in it to reach $100 million. And sure, Silver Linings Playbook has been holding very well, but that’s understandable given its theatre count and awards buzz. Once they finally get around to expanding it and it garners some major Oscar nominations, it’ll receive a boost for sure, but I don’t see it making The Descendants-style numbers. For some reason, it hasn’t been connecting with audiences, although maybe that’s more to do with the peculiar release strategy.

  • Jerry

    I just saw your Tweets about Django. Can you tell us more about what you liked? So Waltz > Foxx > Dicarpio? How was Kerry Washington (really want her to happen)? Did it feel long or well paced?

  • Jerry

    I just saw your Tweets about Django. Can you tell us more about what you liked? So Waltz > Foxx > Dicarpio? How was Kerry Washington (really want her to happen)? Did it feel long or well paced? Thanks.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Whoops, I thought its theatrical run was about to end, not the other way around. Didn’t it come out like ages ago? No? OK, as I said, it was an educated guess, and it did feel weird anyways. So, at least triple the 20M.


  • Tero Heikkinen


    Son of a…

  • Jack Traven II

    Interesting how everyone here seems to think that Les Mis will definitely be a hit, no, even a big hit in the US. I for my part think that Les Mis will only gross around $75M over there – at most. I don’t think that the US public will be interested enough in seeing a bunch of non-US actors singing all film long that deals with a non-US story. (And no matter how successful the stage musical was. It’s not like The Hobbit whose predecessors were films with built-in film fans.) Anyway. Chicago, for example, had mainly US stars and a US based story. Nine on the other hand had mostly non-US actors in it and it took place in Europe. And we all know which film bombed and which one didn’t, right? … But what do I know, huh? All that is, of course, just a guessing game. 😉

  • I don’t think that the US public will be interested enough in seeing a bunch of non-US actors

    Ehh… we mostly adopted them. I think it will get a big opening. Word of mouth (or twitter) will make the difference either way after that.

    I’m currently piles of books deep studying for finals as are many college age students- all of us grew up on LotR so should be the perfect movie to get home to.

    It did feel like a family reunion. 😀 Good luck on your exams.

  • Sasha Stone

    I just saw your Tweets about Django. Can you tell us more about what you liked? So Waltz > Foxx > Dicarpio? How was Kerry Washington (really want her to happen)? Did it feel long or well paced?

    Kerry Washington has very little to do but stand there and look pretty and scared, so she’s out. It’s a good example of Tarantino knowing what his fans want and delivering. Lots of funny abstract Tarantino stuff that is delightful all the way through. Christoph Waltz, not as mean as he is in Basterds, in fact, he’s kind of the nice guy here. Jamie Foxx is FANTASTIC as Django. It’s very much an homage to spaghetti westerns – lots of bloody, pulpy gun violence with blood splattering everywhere, and I mean, EVERYWHERE. A couple of showstopper scenes that hint at the kind of masterpiece it might have been if Tarantino had had Sally working with him. About 3/4 of the way through it runs out of gas. You then have to wait for it to get itself together again for the big finish. So all of that feels a bit of a mess. But it’s spaghetti western gun porn and to that end it works really well, if that’s your thing. If you’re more interested in the history of slavery, obviously, this isn’t for you. Samuel L. Jackson is hysterical as the Uncle Tom. I’d give it a B if I were grading films. What makes me want to see it again are the kick ass action sequences like only Tarantino can do and the dialogue between Foxx and Waltz. So much good stuff in there. Laughed all the way through it. DiCaprio is funny and decent enough in his part but he is upstaged by Don Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx. Tarantino is so unbelievably talented he could film a detergent commercial and it would be enjoyable. I don’t think it’s quite on the level of Basterds or Pulp Fiction because they were leaner and tighter but it’s a genuine pleasure.

  • Sasha Stone

    I have to see The Hobbit again in 24fps. The 48fps were so distracting and irritating it ruined the movie for me. But the one thing I remember really liking was from Gollum onward.

  • That’s exactly what happened to me. One minute into it I was like “Omigod this looks like some kind of History Channel re-enactment of the Roman Empire or some crap.” And it took after Radagast the Brown for me to “get used to it”. Although I’m not sure if it was just me, because I heard another woman say the same thing as we were leaving. So I think they might have gotten better at using the technology after a while. Because in the beginning it even made the acting look bad somehow. At the end everything was fine though. In normal 3D it was like a different movie, a serious version of the cheap thing I saw the day before. Everything was consistent throughout.

  • John

    Yeah, I avoided 48 fps like the plague and went with good ole regular 2d. So grateful that I did. I thought the movie was wonderful and gorgeous. As incredible as LOTR? No. But the Hobbit is completely different in tone and scope. I just can’t go for the 48 with all the negative commentary on it.

  • Danemychal

    Will be interesting to see how Les Mis performs at the BO. $150 mil seems like a lot stateside.

  • Danemychal

    PS – Count me as another Hobbit fan. Saw it Friday and already know I will see it again in the theater in 3D (might try the 48 fps next time). Sometimes the critics just miss the point. Film went by faster than I thought I would actually.

  • John

    I agree (above). What typically happens with me and LONG movies is that I prep myself so much for the dreaded length so that when I watch the film in question and it ends, I usually think the time went by much quicker than anticipated.

  • Jerry

    Thanks for the Django review Sasha, I’m in! 😀 Too bad about Kerry Washington, she deserves better.

  • Radich

    Thanks for your thoughts on Django Unchained, Sasha.

    So now that you’ve seen it, do you think its chances are big with the Academy? Or the heavy genre approach will put them off? They may have fun and laugh, but will they LOVE it, as in head over heels about it? Is Django the one we’ve been waiting for to spice this race up and change everything?

    Good point on Django’s chances at the BO, phantom, specially after the tragedy in Newtown. I am betting more on being a hit at the International BO.

  • K. Bowen

    The thing is, if Skyfall doesn’t make the cut, why are we bothering with 6-10 nominees? If this exact kind of high-end action film that is a huge hit isn’t going to make it, then what’s the point of the expanded field? Isn’t that why they expanded it?

  • Sasha Stone

    Radich, you know, could go either way. I really am drawing up a blank with Django. I’m also stuck on director right now. And am wondering of the three stragglers, four if you count Haneke, who will get in? I think it’s:


    And a fifth slot that I think could go to either David O. Russell (most likely), Quentin Tarantino (maybe), Tom Hooper (a long shot).

    I waffle between the first two. Tarantino squeezed out Russell and Hooper at the Globes, as did Ang Lee, whose Life of Pi is more likable than any of these. So I’m in a quandary. If Tarantino gets in, Django gets in. But it’s a long, sloppy, violent — BUT invigorating and brilliant piece of filmmaking. Could go either way.

  • rufussondheim

    I have two different facebook groups I got invited to in order to see Les Miserables. People are excited and making a night of it. And neither of these groups are my theater friends.

    I’ve never been invited to a facebook group before with regards to seeing a movie.

    It will be popular.

  • JP

    Right now, I have a feeling Quentin Tarantino will score the directing nomination and Ang Lee won’t. I really don’t know about Hooper. I have him in but… Les Mis could be Benjamin Button + Gangs of New York, which I think is more likely. It’s getting close reviews to those films. Or it could be Moulin Rouge or Dreamgirls, since the last one would obviously have scored a BP nomination under this year’s system.

    If Les Miserables was in Harvey Weinstein’s hands, I think they would never have made that mistake to show the film first to non-critics… and then they killed the film by proclaiming it the winner. Musicals are virtually sort of divisive. Chicago and maybe Hairspray (82 and 81 on MC) are exceptions. But although I love Chicago and think it was very deserving of the BP win, I remind it as kind of an underdog when awards season began that year. The Hours and Gangs of New York looked so much more likely to get the Oscars then. It started to gain momentum after it won the Globes. And then all the guilds. I guess If Chicago had been seen at the beginning as the absolute winner, it could have failed to win. The critics could have explored its weakest part, RG’s performance, in a way that could hurt the film.

    Critics really seem to have felt irritated (like Sasha said on one of the podcasts) that they were not the ones that saw the film. And I would add: they are still upset that one of the very few times in which ALL of their groups (probably the only other time was Schindler’s List) sent a clear message to the Academy that one film should win. And then the other that was directed by Les Mis’ director won…. I was actually rewatching TKS one of those days. Everyone has that Oscar victory that you can’t digest. Mine is that one. Overall it’s a good masterpiece theater film. I’ve already seen better ones winning the Made for TV Emmy. I don’t like some aspects of the direction… I think Colin Firth, who was so much better in A Single Man, and Geoffrey Rush overreact in a couple of scenes, I don’t like that cinematography… For me it’s good but only better than The Kids Are All Right (which I think was the only one that shouldn’t be in that very strong category… an average to good film…The Town was way better) and maybe The Fighter in that lineup.
    And worst of all: I will never understand why the Americans chose to give Hooper the Directing when even the brits split and gave that to Fincher.

  • Linc4Jess

    “Les Miserables” is projected to do some $26m in its first weekend and some $130m for its run. “Django Unchained” is projected to do some $27m on its first weekend and some 110m domestically overall. One would think they both would do better but this seems to be the general box office consensus. It will be interesting to see what the Academy and Weinstein does with the “Django” quandary now that many in Hollywood are screaming gun control due to violence. It would be hypocritical to release what many say is ugly violence in “Django” when one is preaching against guns and violence. The members of the Academy should all just go into a private room right now and vote “Lincoln”, “Daniel Day-Lewis”, “Sally Field”, “Spielberg” and the marvelous screenplay winners and do themselves proud and make themselves happy as well as the universe.

  • Daveylow

    I get the impression that Life of Pi is well liked but do the Academy directors like Ang Lee? I don’t see Tarantino making the final five cut.

  • Steandric

    Missing from this buzzing article is of course “The Impossible” which will open on this Friday Dec 21. It has opened in Spain a couples of weeks ago and has since swept past “The Titantic” to become the highest-score film ever in the box-office history of Spain. The film also scores very well in Thailand, France, Italy……We can anticipate a similar situation happening in the U.S. when it opens.

  • tipsy

    If The Hobbit gets blockbuster spot over more deserving blockbusters who have much better critical reception it`s going to be as big a travesty as a Daldrey movie. Seriously those movies won eevrything they could and this one absolutely isn`t in that league, and it`s below Skyfall, TDKR and The Avengers league so I relaly hope that Jackson fanboys don`t get their wish this time around. It doesn`t deserve BP, BD or any major nomination. Actors are fine but nothing Oscar worthy, especially compared to their peers who were actually given something to do other than be charming or looking baffled.

  • mdbDuke

    The Hobbit was pretty awful, I thought. Half of my friends fell asleep. I wanted to fall asleep but was caffeinated.

    Someone earlier in the thread said Les Mis wouldn’t do well in the US because it is more like Nine than Chicago….somehow that poster thought the important points to compare were origin of actors and location of story. I would say the thing to look at is how successful the musical was. No one outside of Manhattan saw Nine. Chicago was pretty successful but not wildly so. Les Mis is the most successful musical ever. Phantom is 2nd. Phantom the movie only made $58M in 2004 (so maybe $70/$75M today, but it was absolutely panned by critics (40/100 on Metacritic).

  • Radich

    Thanks for your response, Sasha.

    If I had my way, Quentin Tarantino would get in and David O. Russel would be out. And yes, I haven’t even seen Django yet, but I really don’t like SLP. I see no major accomplishment from that film, other than telling a cute story. Yeah, because in the end to me, that’s the word I came out the theater with. In case it gets in, I will be very disappointed if it wins BP or BD. But this is just me.

    I wished Paul Thomas Anderson would be in the conversation still. I really liked The Master, and as I see it when talking about accomplishment in Direction, it’s a master work.

    Because of the not so great reviews, I am a little worried about Les Mis chances at BD and especially BP. Life of Pi will be released this Friday here in Brazil. Cannot wait to confirm what people are talking about.

    So, I have a list of more or less three, so far:

    Bigelow (a guess, of course, haven’t seen yet)

  • desmond

    except TDKR and skyfall , ‘Life of Pi’ worldwide figure is the highest (almost 200 million from just 12 markets right now, 36 markets coming weekend ).

    It is a big hit in China , Hong Kong and Taiwan , for most people in these regions , this movie is a great one.

    ‘Life of Pi’ is second Hollywood film to gross more in China than U.S.,0,7818877.story

    Different strokes for different folks

  • steandric

    The movie “The Impossible” has been in the cinema in Spain for 3 months and it’s still in the 2nd spot of the box office. This is the highest grossing film in Spain in the entire history, not even Titanic grossed that much. Making 54 millions in a country with a population of only 47 million is notable and needs to be paid special attention to, or at least given a mention.

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