Third Hobbit heads for box office history

The final instalment of Sir Peter Jackson's trilogy has exceeded the previous two episodes.

The final episode of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy looks set to make box office history both here and overseas.

The final episode, The Battle of the Five Armies, opened at the weekend in 37 territories, exceeding the box office takings of the previous two instalments for a total of $US117.6 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

In New Zealand, total takings were $2.4 million for the first four days.

The biggest opening was in Germany with $US19.5 miilion – a record for that market where last year’s episode, The Desolation of Smaug, clocked up a total of $US88.7 million, making it the biggest for any country outside the US, (See graph below)

The Battle of the Five Armies also had huge openings in the UK ($US15.15 million), France ($US14.5 million), Russia ($US13.4 million), Brazil ($US6.9 million) and Mexico ($US6.4 million).

All of these were above the previous two instalments, each of which wound up with over $US700 million outside the US. The film opens in North America, Australia, Korea and parts of Europe later this week.

China, the second biggest Hobbit market to Germany outside North America, will not see it until late January. Total takings there for Smaug totalled $US83.2 million.

The figures augur well for the tourism industry and Air New Zealand, which heavily promote the Middle-earth theme to attract visitors. 

In New Zealand, The Desolation of Smaug was still running strongly in February, eventually reaching $9.4 million in gross takings, according to Motion Picture Association of New Zealand figures for 2014.

The table shows the cumulative totals from the time of release, which in the case of three films was late 2013.

The runner-up, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, also has a 2014 sequel in release, Mockingjay – Part I, which has already topped $5 million and looks set match its predecessor’s $7 million.

Five others in the top 11 have futuristic or space settings, leaving two family-oriented animated productions, Disney’s musical Frozen and The Lego Movie, to complete the line-up of the most-seen movies this year.

New Zealand film-makers had a stellar year, with at least 10 receiving full cinema releases. The vampire comedy, What We Do in the Shadows, did best at the box office to be the second most-seen “arthouse” movie and takings of $2.6 million, well ahead of cult favourite The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Two other highly-praised local titles, The Dark Horse and The Dead Lands, also did well, clocking up more than $2 million and $1 million respectively.