Weekend Box Office And Your Monday Must-Read.

Scottish comedian and "Hobbit" co-star Billy Connolly

Good Monday Morning, Everyone.

Theatergoers decided they liked “The Vow” and hung out in the “Safe House” during a blustery winter weekend here in the Northeast. Courtesy of Box Office Mojo, here’s the weekend by the numbers:

TW LW Title (click to view) Studio Weekend Gross % Change Theater Count /Change Average Total Gross Budget* Week #
1 N The Vow SGem $41,700,000 2,958 $14,097 $41,700,000 $30 1
2 N Safe House Uni. $39,300,000 3,119 $12,600 $39,300,000 $85 1
3 N Journey 2: The Mysterious Island WB $27,550,000 3,470 $7,939 $27,550,000 $79 1
4 N Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (in 3D) Fox $23,000,000 2,655 $8,663 $23,000,000 1
5 1 Chronicle (2012) Fox $12,300,000 -44.1% 2,908 +1 $4,230 $40,167,000 $12 2
6 2 The Woman in Black CBS $10,300,000 -50.7% 2,856 +1 $3,606 $35,456,000 2
7 3 The Grey ORF $5,080,000 -45.4% 2,801 -407 $1,814 $42,822,000 $25 3
8 4 Big Miracle Uni. $3,900,000 -49.7% 2,133 +4 $1,828 $13,200,000 $40 2
9 8 The Descendants FoxS $3,500,000 -23.1% 1,581 -457 $2,214 $70,729,000 13
10 5 Underworld Awakening SGem $2,500,000 -54.6% 1,657 -979 $1,509 $58,900,000 $70 4

The Guardian’s Film Blog considers director Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth with “The Hobbit,” and wonders whether a profusion of famous faces might do more harm than good to the much-loved prequel to “The Lord of the Rings.”

Here’s the nut graf:

“‘The Hobbit’, by contrast, has already given us a lineup of dwarves and halflings that might have come straight from the little black book of a BBC TV casting director. Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Richard Armitage (Spooks, Robin Hood), Aidan Turner (Being Human), James Nesbitt (everything): Jackson could not have given us more familiar small screen faces had he decided to replace Cate Blanchett as Galadriel with the woman who played Ace in Doctor Who and parachuted in Keith Chegwin to portray Gandalf.

I must admit that the decision to cast Barry Humphries as The Goblin King struck me as genius when it was announced last year. But is it really so necessary for the Master of Lake-town to appear in the smug yet cuddly form of dear old Stephen Fry and wizard Radagast the Brown to arrive in the shape of ex-timelord Sylvester McCoy? I suspect these appearances will make it rather harder for us Brits to lose oneself in the story, a bit like if Luke Skywalker had been played by a young Phillip Schofield in the first Star Wars movie, with Roland Rat as Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.

Connolly’s appointment, in particular, seems likely to add an air of pantomime to the proceedings.

Read the full story here.

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