'The Hobbit' keeps box office crown for third week

Updated: 2012-12-31 10:54


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'The Hobbit' keeps box office crown for third week

Actor Elijah Wood signs autographs for fans at the premiere of the film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" in New York December 6, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Backed by a musical score that made it a Broadway icon, "Les Miz" surged past "The Hobbit" on Christmas day, collecting $18.1 million to pass "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" with the biggest midweek opening day by a musical.

But it was not enough to conquer the "Hobbit" juggernaut, which scored its third straight box office weekend win.

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Universal's president for domestic distribution Nikki Rocco called the "Les Miz" $28 million take "phenomenal, especially considering we went into the weekend with $40 million," an unexpectedly strong figure for its first few days in release.

"People really love this movie, which is even more rewarding and gratifying," Rocco said.

"Les Miserables," which stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, benefited from Oscar buzz and its star power, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com's box office division, who said he wouldn't be surprised to see the musical pass $200 million before it's done.

That would put it among the Hollywood's Top 20 best-selling musicals. It would pass the 1972 film "Cabaret," which grossed $191 million in box office sales adjusted for higher ticket prices, and put it close to "Camelot," which sold $204.5 million in 1967, according to the web site the-numbers.com.

The most successful musical is "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," which grossed more than $6.3 billion but has been re-released by Walt Disney nine times since its 1937 premiere, according to the site.