By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Analyst from New York, USA
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” launched the biggest December box-office opening ever recorded in the USA, bagging 85 Million dollars during the three-opening days, and adding another 138 Million dollars in foreign box office sales. Peter Jackson’s newest film in the trilogy travelled the globe, with openings in 56 foreign territories, on 18,200 screens internationally. The U.K. market captured 18 Million dollars, followed by Germany, at 16 Million dollars, and France, with nearly 13 Million dollars.This brings the five-day opening to a worldwide total of 223 Million dollars.
It has been nine years since Middle Earth fans have visited the shire, and the fan-base have spoken with a huge voice, that they are thrilled to see the epic journey continue. The audience was comprised of 57 percent males, and 42 percent were under the age of 25 years. This bodes well for continued strength in movie revenues throughout the holiday break, when many young men will be on vacation, and audiences will be looking for adventurous movie fare.
Some other factors have strengthened the first weekend office revenues, and will continue to propel the movie to capture greater sales revenues. These include:
Built-up anticipation: Loyal fans have waited nine years to see the Tolkien characters re-unite. The producer Peter Jackson has been stoking the fires with teaser campaigns on Facebook and with interviews and production updates since last year. The fans have been anticipating this next journey since the last film, “Return of the King” won Best Picture and all of the 11 coveted Academy Awards in the categories where it was nominated.
New Technology for movie-goers: The new 48 frames per second filming speed is twice as fast as the standard movie fare, which was filmed at 24 seconds per frame for decades. However, less than 20% of the total worldwide screens will be capable of viewing this speed, since it is only available for viewing on 3D and IMAX screens.
The bigger impact will be the number of 3D screens available for viewing this epic adventure. Although ticket prices for 3D viewing generally adds an extra 15 percent in premium pricing, it will be the first Middle Earth film available in this format, and for a three-hour long movie, worth the price to many ticket-holders. Warner Bros . estimates that 3,160 theater locations worldwide have 3D viewing.
Foreign Box Office Growth: Not only was the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” a highly anticipated film worldwide, there is an expanded worldwide network of theaters where fans can view their favorite Tolkien characters. Certain territories, such as Brazil, China and Russia, had a fraction of the theaters available nine years ago, for the last Jackson film “The Return of the Kings”. Nine years ago, “The Return of the King” netted Million in China in total sales. In 2012, this total record could be broken in the first week!
Collectors of Tolkien fare will also have greater options for continuing the journey and the role-playing on the homefront, with licensed merchandise. LEGO has added six new LEGO collections, dedicated, for the first time, to the Hobbits characters. Although there have been “Lord of the Rings” LEGO collections, this is the first time that LEGO has created exclusive Hobbit collections, and a new Hobbit Game. There are exact replicas from the Hobbit film, with exact details and character depictions of Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo Baggins and multiple other film heroes and villains are included in the Hobbit LEGO collection, something for every price point and every collector.
The Bridge Direct has created highly detailed, exquisitely sculpted action figures to replicate the characters in the epic story, plus child-sized role-play accessories. Neca Wizkids Hero-Clix has seven-character packs, Noble Collection has Hobbit collectibles, there is a new Reiner Knizia Hobbit board game from Fantasy Flight Games, and as the year progresses, even more new licensed merchandise at Spielwarenmesse 2013. Child-sized and adult-sized role-play products are also available, so expect to see furry feet in homes across the globe, and Precious peering out from unexpected places.