Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit showed early muscle at the box office, pulling in roughly $13 million at midnight showings. According to Variety, that number puts The Hobbit on pace for at least a $100 million opening weekend.
The first in a planned trilogy of prequels leading up to Jackson’s own Lord of the Rings trilogy has been fighting mediocre reviews and negative buzz leading up the weekend.
The Wrap reports that much of the criticism is due to Jackson’s decision to shoot the movie at 48 frames per second instead of the traditional 24 frames per second, giving the film a sharper and more realistic look that reportedly makes sets look fake.
Criticism has also come down on Jackson for taking a 300 page book and adapting it into a 3 hour movie, creating a slowly paced film that becomes hard to sit through.
In response to the recent backlash towards The Hobbit, Warner Brother’s is tempering expectations and says they will be happy with an opening weekend in the $70 million range.
Warner Brother may be getting pessimistic however. Peter Jackson built up a lot of good will with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. The final film, The Return of the King, made $377 million domestically and won Best Picture at The Academy Awards.
The real question becomes will good will outweigh negative publicity? One thing is for sure: Fans will turn out in droves this weekend. $70 million is still a massive opening weekend regardless of lowered expectation.
The real test for The Hobbit will come in the weeks to follow. Good word of mouth will easily lead The Hobbit to sustained success at the box office, but bad word of mouth could be devastating. Will you see The Hobbit this weekend or wait to see what other people think first?