“Hobbit,” “Frozen” lead box office to record year

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Over the bustling post-Christmas weekend, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued to lead the box office, landing in the No. 1 slot for the third weekend in a row.

The Warner Bros. prequel earned $30 million, bringing the domestic gross to $190.3 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Disney’s animated adventure, “Frozen,” took the No. 2 position, earning $28.9 million over the weekend and $248.4 million domestically after six weeks at the multiplex.

“‘Frozen’ probably had the best release date of the year because they positioned themselves to completely dominate the family film marketplace over the holidays,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. “To be No. 2 in its sixth week is a total reflection of that.”

Reigning box-office champion “Hobbit,” ”really contributed to this record box office that we have at the end of the year,” he added. “With ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Frozen,’ we are talking $450 million at the box office between those two films alone. They are absolutely killing it here at the end of the year.”

Beyonce” sold 991,000 in its first 10 days and is (so far) the 12th biggest-selling album of 2013

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Beyonce” sold 991,000 in its first 10 days and is (so far) the 12th biggest-selling album of 2013

Beyonce’s new self-titled album remains unstoppable on the Billboard 200 chart, as it spends a second week atop the list.

“Beyonce” sold 374,000 copies in the week ending Dec. 22 (down 39%), according to Nielsen SoundScan. It bowed at No. 1 on the previous week’s chart, after only three days on sale, with 617,000 sold.

The album was released on an off-cycle Friday, Dec. 13. Its debut on the chart a week ago came from sales in the week ending Dec. 15.

Thus, in its first 10 days of release, “Beyonce” sold 991,000 and is (so far) the 12th biggest-selling album of 2013. There is one more tracking week left in the year — the week ending Dec. 29. It’s likely that “Beyonce” will finish 2013 among the top 10 sellers (all of which have sold at least 1 million this year).

Box Office: ‘Hobbit’ Wins Christmas Lead-Up With $31.5 Mil; ‘Anchorman 2′ Bows to $26.8 Mil

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In the lead-up to one of the busiest times at the box office, audiences certainly spread around the Christmas cheer this weekend, as Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued its reign on top with an estimated $31.5 million Friday-Sunday, while Paramount’s new entry “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” followed with a solid $26.8 million in three days.

Paramount bowed “Anchorman 2″ midweek to give it a leg-up on the competition; pic has grossed $40 million since late night Tuesday.

The comedy sequel, which received a serviceable ‘B’ CinemaScore rating, had some B.O. observers predicting a slightly larger three-day gross in the low-$30 millions, though the crowded marketplace, added to the preoccupied nature of people around this time may have slowed the film down some. That said, films released at around Christmastime usually outperform their openings greater than any other time of year. A reasonable domestic outcome for “Anchorman 2″ would be around $125 million-plus, based on its three-day opening.

Internationally, “Anchorman 2,” with $13.4 million, already has more than doubled what the first film made overseas — and from just six territories. Not surprisingly, leading the charge were the U.K. and Australia (the comedy will have a tougher time expanding to non-English speaking countries).

Justin Timberlake tops 2013 iTunes sales, with Beyonce close behind

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Beyonce‘s new album was released just last week, but it’s already the second best-selling album on iTunes this year.

Apple announced Tuesday that the diva’s self-titled album is behind only Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience.” Beyonce’s fifth album sold more than 617,000 units in three days.

Albums from Imagine Dragons, Jay Z and Drake round out the top 5.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have the top-selling song with “Thrift Shop.” Their hit, “Can’t Hold Us,” placed fifth. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons and Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” ranked second, third and fourth.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” captures $73.7 million at box office

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” took in plenty of treasure at the box office this weekend.

Per studio estimates Sunday, the Warner Bros. fantasy film took the No. 1 spot with $73.7 million, besting last weekend’s No. 1 film, Disney’s animated fable “Frozen.”

Melting down to the No. 2 position, “Frozen” — which features the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel and Josh Gad — earned $22.2 in its third weekend, bringing its impressive overall domestic ticket total to nearly $164.4 million. Internationally, the Disney hit gained $31.5 million.

Despite its first place position and positive reviews, “The Desolation of Smaug” fell short of topping its prequel’s debut. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which opened this same weekend last year, gained $84.6 million. It earned $131.2 million in international sales.

“‘Hobbit’ rules this date and Warner Bros. has linked this brand to this time of year very effectively,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak.

“We had an excellent weekend,” said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. “Of course, it could have been a little better, but the weather back East was really tough last night and probably took a couple million dollars out of my pocket. But our box office will survive. We are right on target to do very similar numbers to the last ‘Hobbit,’ which grossed a $1 billion worldwide (overall).”

Lionsgate’s holiday-themed “Tyler Perry’s a Madea Christmas” came in third place with $16.2 million.

Kelly Clarkson Special Has More Viewers Than Former Mentor Simon Cowell’s “X Factor”

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This must hurt. “The X Factor” is just not doing well. We all know it. But on Wednesday night there was an added insult: Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas special had more total viewers than Simon Cowell’s competition. The irony of course is that Clarkson was discovered on Cowell’s “American Idol” and was the very first winner of that show.

“X Factor” was the eleventh–yes 11th– most watched show on Wednesday night. That’s also rough news. From 8 to 10 pm “X Factor” had 4.97 million viewers. It was up against another singing competition on NBC called “The Sing Off.” That show had 6.03 million viewers. Ouch!

Later on NBC, Clarkson’s Christmas special came on at 10pm and scored 5.31 mil viewers. Indeed, if you take away the shows on the almost non existent CW network, “X Factor” had the lowest total audience of any show on Wednesday night.

The people at “American Idol” had better be watching this news. If they haven’t made severe changes for the upcoming season, they’re going to be in the same predicament.

Frozen freezes out The Hunger Games at the UK box office

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Pushing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire aside after its two weeks at the top spot, Disney’s Frozen opened with £4.70m. That’s by no means the top number for an animation this year – Despicable Me 2 debut gathered £14.82m, including £4.87m in previews in June – but it’s a solid start for a film presumed to play to the Christmas audience. Family films targeting the Christmas market have a knack of playing strongly right through until Christmas Eve, and if the festive association is not too strong can, continue to play beyond that date.

Two years ago, Aardman‘s Arthur Christmas debuted with a so-so £2.11m, but by Christmas Day had managed £19.66m, and eventually reached £20.84m. (A re-release a year later pushed it to £21.08m.) Last year, DreamWorks Animation’s Rise of the Guardians kicked off with £1.97m, and went on to achieve £12.49m – hardly a stunning result, but nevertheless more than six times the opening.

The success of Frozen contrasts with rival animation Free Birds, which fell by 70% from the previous weekend, the biggest drop of any film in the top 10.

Mandela film breaks box office records in SAfrica

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A movie depicting the life of Nelson Mandela has become South Africa’s highest grossing picture after its opening last week, its producers said Thursday.

The film, “Long Walk to Freedom,” has already earned $427,000 (Rand 4.4 million), according to Videovision Entertainment.

The movie stars British actor Idris Elba as Mandela, the 95-year-old liberation struggle icon. It’s based on his autobiography with the same title.

The British-South African co-production opened just over a week ago in South Africa, followed by a limited engagement in New York and Los Angeles.

“I visited a few cinemas over the weekend and experienced the emotional response to the film with audiences leaving the cinemas completely satisfied,” said producer Anant Singh. “For me as a filmmaker, this is really fulfilling.”

Katy Perry, John Mayer Release ‘Who You Love’ Single Art

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John Mayer and Katy Perry have released the cover art for their duet, “Who You Love.”

‘Who You Love’ is here,” wrote Mayer in an Instagram post of the artwork for the track off his latest album, Paradise Valley. “Proud of this song, proud of this artwork, proud of this girl.”

Shot by Mario Sorrenti, the black-and-white cover for the couple’s “Who You Love” single features Perry in a slip, lying on a velvet couch with her arm around a casually dressed Mayer, who is sitting on the floor and playing a guitar.

And yes, we look like this at home pretty much all the time,” Mayer joked of the shoot on his blog.

Vanity Fair notes that other casual yet intimate portraits from the shoot include Perry in a turtleneck with her hand inside Mayer’s denim shirt, Mayer kissing Perry’s neck as she smiles with her leg popped, and a solo shot of Mayer wearing a blazer and strumming his guitar.