Nearly 11 Million North Americans Watched 'The Hobbit' This Weekend, Which Is Not As Impressive As It Sounds
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Nearly 11 Million North Americans Watched The Hobbit This Weekend, Which Is Not As Impressive As It Sounds

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | December 17, 2012 | Comments ()


For funsies, I thought we'd put this weekend's box-office report not in terms of box-office grosses, but in the estimated number of people who attended movies. The financial success of a movie is nice to know, but I always find it enlightening to link that success with the number of tickets sold.

With that said, 10.8 million people have attended The Hobbit since it opened last Thursday at midnight, which made it the highest grossing December opening of all time, but in terms of actual attendees, it was only third. Nearly 1.2 million more people watched Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on its opening weekend back in December 2003. Moreover, though the $84 million that The Hobbit made over the weekend sounds incredibly impressive, it was also spiked by 3D ticket sales. In fact, the 10.8 million people who watched The Hobbit falls well short of the number of people who watched The Avengers on opening weekend, which was 25 million. In fact, more people saw The Dark Knight Rises (20 million), The Hunger Games (19 million), Twilight; Breaking Dawn Part II (18 million), and even Skyfall (11.3 million) than watched The Hobbit on opening weekend. Truth be told, more people (11.2 million) saw Bruce Almighty on opening weekend back in 2003 than saw The Hobbit since last Thursday.

However, The Hobbit did eclipse everything else in movie theaters by at least tenfold. The second place film, Rise of the Guardians, was seen by only 950,000 people, while Lincoln was seen by 931,000 people and 899,000 people saw Skyfall. To date, however, 35 million people have seen Skyfall, which is about the same number of people who have seen The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 so far.

Meanwhile, 13 million people, so far, have seen the two leading Oscar contenders, Argo and Lincoln, while 9 million people have seen the Golden Globes' nominee, Life of Pi.

To put it all in perspective, however, the 10.8 million people who saw The Hobbit is but a drop in the moat compared to the 202 million tickets sold to Gone with the Wind, which is more than the population of America (130 milllion) when the film was released in 1939. And if you thought that the 168 minute The Hobbit was long, the 238-minute Gone with the Wind also bests it in runtime, although -- to be fair -- The Hobbit still has two movies to go. Still, even after all three films have run their course, the entire trilogy won't likely sell half as many tickets combined as did Gone with the Wind.

Full disclosure: I liked The Hobbit. A lot. I don't even understand myself anymore. I don't know if something inside of me has broken, or has been repaired. I'm very confused about the state of my headspace right now.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Mrs. Julien

    Whenever people start complaining about the Gone with the Wind Factor, my brain flashes to the scene in Chasing Amy when they're are talking about black people in Star Wars and Lando Fu*king Calrissian and how Jedi is the most insulting episode.

  • Littlejon2001

    @Dustin Rowles, I'm with you man. I liked The Hobbit a lot. Don't get me wrong, I know for all intensive purposes it was not a "good" film. Way too long, unnecessary scenes that did not add to the overall story, etc. But I loved it because I love the world of Middle Earth and hell, I'd rather sit and watch a bloated Hobbit movie than 90% of the other films that have come out this here, including Lincoln and Skyfall. It's just enjoyable to me.

    That being said, we need to stop this comparison of "tickets sold" and movie prices to films of the past. There were SOOOO MANY LESS films to choose from in 1939 than there are in 2012. Also, yea movie prices have gone up meaning a lot of Americans don't deem it worthy enough to pay $21 to see a movie (that is the NYC price of Imax 3D) when I can pay $21 (or less) to own a movie for the rest of my life. It's just not a fair comparison, plain and simple.

    I'll tell you another thing. Watching The Hobbit has made me want to rewatch LOTR. Which I will begin doing right now...ByE!

  • Figures that you'd like Hobbit better than LOTR. You are a broken shell of a man, Dustin.

    Ha, kidding!

    Also, is there any way to know how many of a movie's total ticket sales were inflated 3D prices? I think you can't even fairly compare movies anymore by the amount of money they make. There's such a big difference between normal movies, 3D, 3D+IMAX, 3D+48fps, etc. What percentage of these movies came from those ridiculously overpriced tickets?

  • Tom

    please ALWAYS report box office figures in terms of # of people. it give context to the $ that I wish was more readily available

  • Idle Primate

    Box office mojo has the option of viewing box office as # of tickets sold. It will also convert for inflation backward or forward.

  • Tom

    perfect. I'd still like to know $ too. as much context as possible

  • pissant

    Aren't those ticket sales from Gone With The Wind after multiple releases over decades during a time when that was the only way to see the film?

  • My family went to see The Hobbit this weekend, and I even gave in to seeing it in 3D (though I neither know nor care what format/frame rate). We all enjoyed it. I got to watch Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage (mmmm), Aidan Turner (ditto), and Ian McKellan for almost three hours. We got to visit Middle Earth again, and while there was, as usual, a great deal of walking and some truly head-scratching additions to book canon, I found it rather delightful.

    As a movie in and of itself... well, it wasn't was it? It was part of a movie. I enjoyed the part I got to see, but dragging it out for three movies means that this pattern of giving us a New Zealand travelogue with occasional action scenes is likely to continue. Good thing NZ is so darned pretty.

  • Arran

    I swear this is about the fifth article I've seen today implying that the film didn't actually do very well. It made $220m worldwide in one weekend and has plenty of holiday time to come. Unless the budget was $700m, I think it's going to wind up doing pretty ok.

    And comparing box office performance to past films can be interesting academically, but is completely meaningless. You can't make any kind of real comparison between films released into different marketplaces.

    (I have no personal connection to the film and only thought it was pretty ok. I just tire of stories being made out of nothing.)

  • I'm planning on seeing The Hobbit over Christmas vacation. That's how I saw all the LOTR movies. It's kinda tradition to get together with old friends to see these movies.

  • Sara_Tonin00


  • L.O.V.E.

    -- "I don’t even understand myself anymore. I don’t know if something inside
    of me has broken, or has been repaired. I’m very confused about the
    state of my headspace right now."

    Dustin, if John Hawkes invites you to his farm in the Catskills and tells you that you look like a "Derek Douglas", do NOT go with him.

  • BWeaves

    (OOOPS - Double Post)

  • Robert

    11 million people saw a 3 hour film over the weekend that couldn't play ever 30 minutes like your typical blockbuster. The bigger factor is that the 48FPS projection was maligned before one critic was allowed to say whether they enjoyed the film or not.

    Well that, and, you know, didn't The Dark Knight Rises not do as well as anticipated after the Aurora shooting? It's kind of hard to feel good about going out and treating yourself to a movie when tragedy strikes. I only went out to see The Hobbit because my brother was off from work and dragged me away from the news updates long enough to get me to agree to go.

  • BWeaves

    This movie was guaranteed to be a disappointment no matter how well it did. I'm sure Peter Jackson will laugh all the way to the bank.

  • BWeaves

    I'm a huge Tolkien fan, but I have NOT seen The Hobbit yet, as I hate being in a full theater. I went to see one of the LOTR's film the day it opened and the person behind me kicked the back of my chair the entire time.

    Also, the theater closest to me has The Hobbit in the following FOUR formats, and I'm confused as to which one to pick.

    IMAX 3D (although this is the fake IMAX) (Old school polarized lenses.)

    RealD 3D (I read the polarization lenses are circular and the screen flickers between left and right eyes.)

    HFR 3D D3D (I guess this is the 48 frames per second version, again with different glasses.)


    What the hell is the difference between the 3 different 3D types? I've tried reading up on them, and they appear to be completely different technologies with different glasses, and different pros and cons. But what do people really like? How comfortable are the glasses?

    I'm slightly blind in my left eye, so I usually just say, "Screw it, 2D please."

    Can anyone give me their preferences for the 3D format they like?

    Keep in mind I wear glasses, because that makes the stupid 3D glasses even more awkward.

  • My answer will always be: Fuck 3D. It's unnecessary and overpriced.

  • Mr_Grumpypants

    I was pretty disappointed with the first 2 hours of The Hobbit, it was too messy and inconsistent. However I really got into the final 45 minutes with Gollum and the goblin caves escape chase. So I don't know where I land on the movie either...I am excited for part 2 at least.

  • Fredo

    The Hobbit is a more accessible, easy story to get behind than LOTR. Not as wide in scope, but easier to digest.

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