“Anchorman 2″ Edges “Hobbit,” “Hustle;” Weekend Still Looking Modest

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“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” outperformed holdover “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and expanded “American Hustle” for first place at the box office Friday, but it did not reposition itself for an impressive gross.

By adding $8.7 million to its piggy bank Friday, “Anchorman” slipped past the aforementioned two films, which earned $8.6 million and $6.3 million, respectively. It also brought its gross since Wednesday’s bow to $21.9 million.

Unfortunately, that total did not represent the upside surprise for which supporters were hoping. An $8.7 million Friday for “Anchorman” foretells a three-day weekend total below $30 million and a five-day opening tally of barely $42 million. Considering all the hype, such minimal growth over the numbers for 2004′s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”–$28.4 in its first weekend, $36.5 million in its first five days–makes for an irrefutable letdown.

Worse, if “Anchorman” earns less than $30 million in the current three-day weekend, it will likely cede the number one spot to “The Hobbit.” That film should earn $31 million from Friday through Sunday.