The Desolation of Snow Hamstrings The Hobbit

Tolkien’s creatures are pretty hardy but apparently can’t handle a little snow.

A storm that blanketed the Northeast on Saturday weighed on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in its opening weekend in theaters. The film garnered $74 million in U.S. ticket sales, less than the $80 million analysts expected. It also fell short of the opening weekend haul from the prior Hobbit film, which garnered $85 million in its opening weekend a year ago.

Near Bloomberg Businessweek headquarters in Manhattan, plenty of people flock to theaters by subway and on foot when it’s snowing. But movie-going becomes much more of a harrowing adventure when driving is involved. A visit to Middle Earth from the suburbs just north of New York City, for example, meant swerving through almost eight inches of snow.

The bad weather, however, doesn’t mean The Hobbit sequel is doomed. Puss in Boots made its debut during a historic Northeast snowstorm early last winter. As parts of Connecticut piled up with 19 inches of white stuff, the animated cat film rounded up only $34 million in domestic ticket sales—15 percent less than analysts had projected. By the time the film left theaters, its box office tally had increased to $149 million, far better than expectations.

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