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'Hobbit' Extends No. 1 journey With $36.7M

Starting on Christmas, Hollywood expects a big week of movie-going with schools out through New Year's Day and many adults taking time off. So Paramount and other studios are counting on strong business for films that started slowly this weekend.

"Jack Reacher will end up in a very good place. The movie will be profitable for Paramount," said Don Harris, the studio's head of distribution. "The first time I saw the movie I saw dollar signs. It certainly wasn't intended to be compared to a Mission: Impossible, though."

Likewise, Warner Bros. is looking for steady crowds for The Hobbit over the next week, despite the debut of two huge newcomers -- the musical Les Miserables and the action movie Django Unchained -- on Christmas Day.

"We haven't reached the key holiday play time yet," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner. "It explodes on Tuesday and goes right through the end of the year."

In limited release, Kathryn Bigelow's Osama bin Laden manhunt saga Zero Dark Thirty played to packed houses with $410,000 in just five theaters, averaging a huge $82,000 a cinema.

That compares to a $4,654 average in 3,352 theaters for Jack Reacher and a $4,130 average in 2,913 cinemas for This Is 40. 'The Guilt Trip averaged $2,217 in 2,431 locations, and Monsters, Inc. averaged $1,925 in 2,618 cinemas. Playing just one matinee and one evening show a day at 840 theaters, Cirque du Soleil averaged $2,542.

Since opening Wednesday, Zero Dark Thirty has taken in $639,000. Distributor Sony (SNE) plans to expand the acclaimed film to nationwide release Jan. 11, amid film honors and nominations leading up to the Feb. 24 Academy Awards.

Opening in 15 theaters from Lionsgate (LGF) banner Summit Entertainment, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor's tsunami-survival drama The Impossible took in $138,750 for an average of $9,250.

A fourth new release from Paramount, The Sopranos creator David Chase's 1960s rock 'n' roll tale Not Fade Away, debuted with $19,000 in three theaters, averaging $6,333.

Universal's Les Miserables got a head-start on its domestic release with a $4.2 million debut in Japan.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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