Nine years ago, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” earned $28.4 million in its first weekend and $36.5 million in its first five days.
A mild hit in theaters, it would become a widely quoted phenomenon in the years that followed. And after those nine years of hype, not to mention one of the most aggressive television campaigns in recent memory, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” finally debuted this past Wednesday.
Its debut performance at the box office? $40 million in its first five days with only $26.8 million coming from Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Yes, that means after all the hype, yearning and excitement, “Anchorman 2″ barely outperformed its predecessor in its opening five days. And though it would be unfair to directly compare three-day weekends (since “Anchorman,” unlike the sequel, opened on Friday), one still cannot call “Anchorman 2′”s $26.8 million weekend better than the predecessor’s $28.4 million bow.
Worse for “Anchorman 2″ is the fact that “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which is a disappointment in its own right, claimed the weekend lead with $31.5 million. After two weekends, that puts the film’s total at $127.5 million; 2012′s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” earned $150.0 million in the same timeframe.
Other top five finishers this weekend: “Frozen” (#3, $19.2 million, $191.6 million) “American Hustle” (#4, $19.1 million, $20.2 million) and “Saving Mr. Banks” (#5, $9.3 million, $9.9 million).
Other newcomers: “Walking with Dinosaurs” (#8, $7.3 million, 3231 screens) and “Dhoom 3″ (#9, $3.3 million, 236 screens). The latter had the highest per-screen average of any film in the top ten.