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Monday Morning Mixer: Is 'The Hobbit' good enough?

Posted Monday, December 17, 2012 at 2:47 PM Central

by John Couture

It was a heady weekend for me personally. My beloved Butler Bulldogs produced a little March Madness magic in December and gave me a little belated birthday present by knocking off the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers.

Of course, if you don't follow college basketball, you might be a bit confused by the anology, so let me put it into terms that everyone reading this article will understand. Indiana was the top dog the weekend, aka The Hobbit, and Butler was Any Day Now, the little challenger looking to topple the massively favored blockbuster.

Any Day Now didn't quite muster the upset, finishing way back in 30th place with $41,000. Thankfully, Butler fared much better this weekend, but I think you could argue that both favorites were off of their game a bit.

It was a somber weekend, but one filled with Hollywood news nonetheless. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and prepare to enter the mixer.

Box Office 411

Despite opening with $84.8 million and setting a new box office record for the highest grossing opening record in December, there's just something about the number that feels flat. To continue the basketball analogy, it's akin to a school getting out to a huge lead and then taking the foot off of the accelerator for the second half.

Sure, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey also earned a bigger opening weekend number than any of the Lord of the Rings films, but there's just something that feels hollow about its performance. With the inflated ticket costs of 3D, IMAX and High Frame Rate, anything less than a $100 million would seem to be lacking.

Think about that for a minute. We have become so obsessed and jaded that we are actually postulating that $84 million may not be good enough.

December is always a tricky month for films until after the holidays have passed. Even then, the Winter months are not usually known for big and robust box office numbers. Before today, the biggest grossing December opener was I am Legend from 2007.

In today's day and age, holding a highest monthly opening record for five years is unheard of, unless of course you are talking about the Winter months. Believe it or not, but 2004's The Passion of the Christ is still holds the highest opening number for February at $83.8 million.

Of course, it's difficult to measure the impact of the real world on the escapism provided by a movie theater. With Friday's tragic shootings in Connecticut, it's not too much of a stretch to think that some people suddenly didn't feel up to going out to watch a movie.

That being said, I still think that The Hobbit performed admirably even if it was on the low end of the predictions. It will have strong legs through the holiday season and I would be shocked if it didn't become the highest grossing Lord of the Rings film to date, surpassing The Return of the King's $377 million.

Oscar bin Laden?

It's looking like there's a two horse race shaping up for the Oscars between Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. While Lincoln seemingly has a strangle hold on Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress (and a pretty good shot at Best Supporting Actor too), the true story of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound is the early favorite for the top Oscar.

Zero Dark Thirty is just the type of patriotism that should fare well both at the box office and the awards circuit. It's still unclear what effect, if any, last week's shootings will have on the box office performance of Zero Dark Thirty.

On the one hand, you could argue that the violence and torture in the film could be a turnoff for some viewers in light of the Connecticut tragedy. Although, perhaps a patriotic story of vengeance is just what the doctor ordered to help cope with the random acts of craziness that exist in real life each and every day.

Either way, this final trailer for Zero Dark Thirty is, in my opinion, the best one for the film.

Boldly Narrating

You may recall the announcement trailer that dropped last week for Star Trek Into Darkness. If not, we said that "It's dark. It's grim. And it's full of action."

Well, if that one was "grim," then the first trailer released this weekend with The Hobbit is downright melancholy. It features a somber voice over by Pike, aka Bruce Greenwood, and features the entire cast and peril their fearless leader has gotten them into this time around.

The teased Khan footage is right there on front street and at the very least signifies that someone isn't going to make it to Star Trek 3. For now, it's a juicy little bit of footage and it should soak up your screen nicely.

Well, it seems that the MMM has stretched into the afternoon yet again. I better go ahead and sign off before it becomes the TMM. Remember, the Mayans are predicting that you should party on Friday like it's the end of the world.

Sounds like a good enough excuse for me! Until next week (if there is one), mix well!