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.