Hobbit surges to biggest film of 2013

A holiday surge in filmgoing pushed total box office takings above those of 2012, with the four-day weekend to December 29 posting an all-time record of $4.4 million.

The NZ Motion Picture Distributors Association says the annual total of $180 million was about 1% ahead of the previous year, with the second of Sir Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy taking $5 million in the just two weeks.

The NBR-compiled table, to January 1, shows this helped push The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to the most popular film of 2013. It has since climbed to $8.9 million in the first two weeks of January.

Internationally, it has grossed nearly $US835 million and well within reach of the first Hobbit film, which made just over $US1 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.

Meanwhile, another sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, has also added to its 2013 total to a gross of $6.9 million, putting it ahead of Ironman 3 ($6.6 million) and Despicable Me 2 ($6.5 million).

The NZMPDA’s figures for the first two weeks of January show the Disney animated musical Frozen is setting the pace at the holiday box office, as it has done in the US and elsewhere.

It is followed by the art-house hit Philomena ($2 million in three weeks), which is proving slightly more popular than Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released at the same time.