The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens this weekend, and though it should make a great deal of money, it’s hard to suggest that anyone’s all that excited about seeing it. Sure, it’s got more action than the last one, but still.

Even the people who like the film (which is currently Fresher than An Unexpected Journey on Rotten Tomatoes) will admit it’s a middle chapter and that the series can’t justify its length. And audiences, well, I guess people want to see it, but it’s hard not to agree with the sentiment that most are going out of obligation. There must be people excited, for sure, the franchise has a large non-geeky fanbase, but the last film zapped some goodwill which hopefully this more action-packed entry will restore.

I ended up reading some old message board comments about Attack of the Clones after watching this, and I expect a similar reaction. Because this delivers what people seemingly want from the films in ways that the first film — with its long meal sequence — did not, many will be convinced this is as good as the original films. But as a middle chapter in a prequel trilogy with a first film that didn’t live up to the originals, it’s also quite likely that this will be the lowest grossing film in the franchise, much as AotC was.

This week also adds many limited release Oscar films, and Tyler Perry‘s latest, which will make money hand over fist. But let’s get predicting:

  1. The Hobbit 2 – $75.8 Million
  2. Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas - $28.5 Million
  3. Frozen - $22.5 Million
  4. The Hunger Games 2 - $13.8 Million

The Hobbit could go higher, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does seventy million or less. Though it’s got a bunch of holiday weekends to look forward to, I don’t think it gets over $250 million domestic.

What are you going to watch this weekend?