You hear people talk about branding, but jeez Louise here’s a terrific example. Peter Jackson’s two and a half hour film of “The Hobbit”–essentially part 4 of his billion dollar “Lord of the Rings” trilogy– took in $37.5 million on Friday in the U.S. Altogether with its worldwide sales, “The Hobbit” now has $69 million in the bank. And that’s one day. By Sunday night, yikes.
Using many cast members from “Lord of the Rings,” Jackson has embellished the earlier, shorter, lighter J.R.R. Tolkien book and inflated the whole thing into a new trilogy. Ticket prices are higher because it’s a kind of nauseating 3D that looks like video from 20 years ago but makes the viewer feel as if you’re in the middle of Middle Earth. At this rate, Jackson will be looking to expand Tolkien’s Haikus into mini series. If you film it, they will come!
In other news, three Oscar buzzed movies have crossed the $100 million line– “Argo,” “Lincoln,” and “Flight– which is good news for the Academy Awards. A fourth, “Silver Linings Playbook,” remains in limited release but doing very well. Another, “Life of Pi,” is building slowly toward $100 million. Not doing so well: Brad Pitt in “Killing Them Softly,” which has somehow misfired badly. I really liked it in Cannes, so did many others. But for a Brad Pitt movie, it’s a mess– just $14 million so far.
Coming shortly: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables. The big guns, as they say.