Smaug Desolates The US Box Office

While Keanu's 47 Ronin flounders

A strong year end at America’s cinemas ended with Smaug and co. sitting pretty atop a sizeable pile of treasure. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug registered a third week at the top of the box office, while Disney’s ice-bound animation Frozen confounded expectations with a massive fifth week. To no-one’s great surprise, 47 Ronin landed with a strange “thunk” sound at the other end of the top ten.

The Desolation Of Smaug took $30 million in its third weekend, slightly less than An Unexpected Journey in the corresponding weekend last year but still a healthy haul for Warner Bros. to add to worldwide takings of $424 million.

Bilbo and his band of pint-sized companions are proving resilient but the real story here is Frozen. Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, it has piled into a gap in the family-orientated market like a herd of reindeer. Strong word of mouth has seen it shoot up 47 per cent to $29 million, the third biggest fifth weekend of all time behind such behemoths as Avatar and Titanic. With US grosses projected at north of $300 million, expect a Frozen 2.

Elsewhere in the hit parade Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues grabbed third place with $20.2 million, leaving it with a to-date figure of $84 million in the US. David O. Russell’s band of ‘70s renegades, meanwhile, continued to make solid progress towards a predicted $100 million total. American Hustle, underpinned by its box-office friendly cast, raked in a more-than-respectable $19.6 million.

Two releases that have hoovered up press coverage but were always likely to have a tougher fight for moviegoers’ dollars, The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, had mixed Christmas debuts. Martin Scorsese’s junk banking epic has taken $18.5 million since Christmas Day, a decent but unspectacular opening, while Ben Stiller’s passion project opened in seventh with $13 million.

That’s dwarfed by the openings of the Night At The Museum and Meet The Parents franchises - moviegoers prefer Nebbish Stiller to Adventuresome Stiller – although disappointment will be tempered by positive reactions of its 52 per cent female audience. No such consolation for The Wolf Of Wall Street, rated only a ‘C’ on its CinemaScore feedback. Empire gave it an A+.

Saving Mr. Banks held firm after a disappointing opening, clocking in at $14 million, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire continued to carry all before it, taking another $10 million to leave it just shy of $400 million.

Keanu will need some more cheering up when he sees his ill-fated 47 Ronin down in ninth. The fantasy samurai epic picked up only $9.9 million - or about $210,000 per ronin - a figure below even its lowball estimates and one that will leave Universal seriously out of pocket. Cinemagoers didn’t have much appetite to see two old pugilists either. Grudge Match took only $7.3 million, a figure Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom can only gaze at enviously. The Idris Elba starring biopic came in 13th with $2.4 million.