The Hobbit on the Threshold of the Billion Dollar Club


The Hobbit’s box office receipts are recorded at $960,001,896 as of today, but this time next week, it’s likely to officially join the small number of other films which have reached a billion dollars in revenue. The film’s release in China this weekend is cause for such confidence. What happy timing considering the broadcast of Oscar presentations and the dearth of nominations for The Hobbit — excepting the wonderful Tami Lane and Weta Digital bunch.

I wasn’t always this optimistic it could reach the benchmark this quickly. After reading about the piracy which can ensue when there’s a considerable lag time between a film’s release in other countries and China, it was hard not to think The Hobbit would go the way of Skyfall. But I forgot something, and it wasn’t the love affair the Chinese seem to have with fantasy. They also love 3D. This was so easy to forget since it’s never been very popular in America. In fact it has been talked about for years as being dead. I will admit 48fps might resurrect it some, but people have to be willing to give it a try first. I’m not confident that enough in the U.S. did that with Jackson’s movie. But in China, 3D is the rage and will go a long way toward pulling the Chinese to the cinema.

At Comic-Con last year someone in the film industry told me Peter Jackson was more or less forced by Warner Brothers to make it in that format. I’m not sure I agree that Jackson had to be forced especially when I consider his business savvy. But now that I understand the piracy issue a little more, it makes sense Warners would be adamant about it. It’s a kind of insurance policy against piracy. And when considering the box office receipts of the top grossing movies, e.g., Avatar, it’s abundantly clear the format will survive well beyond The Hobbit. But even if the receipts hadn’t been so bent toward 3D, the fastest growing area of the film market is in China, so it more than the U.S. is dictating what we will be seeing. And all of it makes me wonder if indie films will suffer, but that’s for another post.

If you didn’t click on the Skyfall link, I hope you will at some point. It leads to the China Film Biz blog written by Rob Cain who has been been doing business in the industry in China since 1987. He is a wealth of knowledge.

And now a poster featuring our guy since we can’t get enough of looking at him. :D

[click to enlarge]

The facial features are very finely done and the entire poster seems to have an Asian quality. Whatever that is. Someone more articulate than I am may explain.


  1. I am very happy to see this, given how pointedly The Hobbit was passed over by Hollywood’s establishment.

  2. I’ve been intrigued at how the US receipts for The Hobbit are smaller as a proportion of total gross than many of others in $1b club. Not sure why?

  3. That does surprise me–maybe not enough American followers of Mr. Armitage yet? Still?

  4. Is anyone more articulate than you?

  5. As an ill-at-ease 3 D watcher, I’m sad that the dictates of a global market will cause more and more 3 D to be released. Hopefully folk like me will still be catered for.

    And in respect of the Chinese market, it’s the same with everything: being the largest consumer of goods in the world, it stands to reason they’ll dictate to the market. Here in Australia, we have seen it in all areas of our commodity production, especially food, with the Chinese coming in and buying up massive farms for food production to be shipped straight to China. Their consumption of our wool (the biggest purchasers thereof) means they can dictate the floorprice.

    Entertainment is the next step down the ladder… We live in a global community with global pressures.

  6. […] Peter Jackson pushed to make The Hobbit in 3D because of China? (Cough, yeah, I bet that was really rough for him.) But the first film’s on the threshold of $1 bn. Wow. […]

  7. Not sure I’ve put my 2 cents in on the 3D subject or the 48fps…but…my second viewing of The Hobbit was 3D 48fps and OH MY GOSH!! What a difference! While I enjoyed my first visit, it was just 3D 24fps in a smallish theater. But the second time was AMAZING. There are still storyline edits and character oopsies that bug me, but the visual treats were astounding. I’m telling you when those eagles swopped down to rescue our dwarves, I nearly jumped up out of my seat and cheered! And then their flight with dangling dwaves and the dropping of said dwarves. Hubs looked at me (he’s NO fantasy fan and hated LotR) and said, “WOW! How’d they do that?” I just smiled. Later we talked about the movie and he mentioned that if we think the visuals were something in The Hobbit, just imagine what we’ll think when we get to Heaven!!! “The eye has not seen nor the ear heard..”

    Jackson redeemed the entire movie in those last 10 minutes, IMHO. Not only with the visuals but the acting, the music…wow, just everything. I think the Chinese are going to love it but like Prue, they worry me. A lot.

    Oh, and next December, I’m headed for an IMAX. I. Can’t. Wait. :

    One more thing…wonder if any of the cast/crew are in China for the premiere being on the same weekedn as the Oscars?

  8. I think i should point out that I have nothing against the Chinese in the marektplace. If they didn’t buy our wool, maybe no one would. And if they want to grow food in Australia then fine. But I don’t want all our fine agricultural porperties (what Americans call ranches and we’re talking 100’s of 1000’s acreage in each property) being sold out of Australia. But as i said above, we live in a global market and the biggest purchaser gets to call the shots.
    I have a soft spot for Asian minds and Asian culture. They are our nearest neighbours and I have many wonderful memories of times all over Asia. That’s why I wrote the hist. fantasy The Shifu Cloth ;0

  9. First, I want to say that I don’t believe for a minute Peter Jackson lost interest with the 3D format and was forced by the studios to make it, and with the Chinese being a lover of the format, it was a no brainer. But if the Chinese decide they’re not really that into 3D, it probably will die.

    Queen, I didn’t expect there to be fanfare for the Chinese release since there hasn’t been for other movies, so I doubt they’re there.

    Prue, I understand your need to clarify. I actually had a moment of hesitation when I was typing the post because I know there are those who are quick to assume attitudes are at work when really the comments are just about what’s being seen.

  10. […] in China, it will be significantly helped along to the billion dollar club. And this won’t be the first time China will help considerably in putting a Hobbit movie in the club. It will just do it much sooner […]

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