Hobbit watching: Sequel off to strong global start, premium viewing a boost

|By:, SA News Editor

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is on a pace to earn $68M-$72M this weekend in the U.S. to fall short of the haul the first Hobbit movie delivered last year. A tough weather mix may have been a small factor.

The film has done very well in global markets, earning the top spot in box office rankings in several markets and staying well-ahead of the international pace of its predecessor. The film's strong tally in Mexico and Germany shocked analysts.

Warner Bros. (TWX) is rolling the film out in international markets at a slower pace for strategic reasons. At the end of its protracted opening, media watchers expect Smaug to top the $1B global box office mark due to the strong global appeal it's displaying so far.

Hobbit spillover: Companies which might see a boost from the film's performance include  IMAX (IMAX), Dolby (DLB), and RealD (RLD) as moviegoers indicate a willingness to pay up for premium viewing. News Corp (NWS), which owns the Tolkien rights through HarperCollins Publishers, doesn't mind a little Hobbit fever as well.