In duel of sequels, ‘Hobbit’ leaves ‘Anchorman’ behind

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In duel of sequels, ‘Hobbit’ leaves ‘Anchorman’ behind

NEW YORK - On a busy pre-Christmas weekend at the North American box office, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’’ held off a very different sequel, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.’’

Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit’’ sequel took in $31.5 million in its second weekend of release for Warner Bros., according to studio estimates Sunday. Though the film isn’t matching the pace of the first “Hobbit’’ movie, “An Unexpected Journey,’’ “The Desolation of Smaug’’ is doing well abroad. It has now made more than $400 million worldwide, including $96 million internationally over the weekend.

The “Hobbit’’ topped Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman’’ sequel, which nevertheless opened strongly in second place. The Paramount Pictures comedy made $26.8 million over the three-day weekend and $40 million since opening Tuesday night.

The much-marketed “Anchorman 2’’ actually outperformed “The Hobbit’’ (which has now passed $300 million worldwide) on Friday but failed to best it over Saturday and Sunday. But the $50 million comedy, which Paramount initially turned down, also suggested it will be more popular abroad than most comedies. It made $13.4 million in six international markets. The 2004 original opened with $28.4 million but only grossed $5.3 million internationally.

“?‘Anchorman’ will have a much larger footprint internationally than the last ‘Anchorman’ did,’’ said Don Harris, head of domestic distribution for Paramount. “Will Ferrell has done a really good job of turning this character into something that travels around the world.’’

David O. Russell’s fictionalization of the 1970s Abscam political corruption investigation “American Hustle’’ earned a robust $19.1 million.

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