It may have been a very Merry Christmas for Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and Disney’s Into the Woods as both debuted with $15 million openings, but The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies would have the last laugh as the weekend came to a close.
In a weekend that had the top three gross more than $31 million each, the last chapter in The Hobbit saga finished with an estimated $41.4 million to bring its two-week total to $168.5M. Worldwide those crazy hobbits might as well be leprechauns with the pot of gold it has at the end of the rainbow ($405 million and counting). While it won’t match or exceed the numbers of the previous Hobbit entries (both made $303M and $258M in the U.S., respectively) it will definitely boost Warner Bros. final quarter of 2014. This is a studio that has only had five theatrical films make more than $100M U.S. That figure used to be a number that studios sought to achieve; now it is an opening weekend for some movies. With a few duds in its 2014 line-up (Transcendence, Winter’s Tale and The Judge to name a few), Warner Bros. has been reliant on reboots and sequels to bolster its international numbers. Such as the $269 million Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow amassed overseas to help its $178M production budget. With a bad title and worse marketing, audiences weren’t that interested in seeing Cruise die over and over again.
Second place finisher Unbroken saw the best-selling WWII memoir finish its holiday weekend with $47.3 million. Mixed feelings with critics wouldn’t stop older audiences looking to see an uplifting drama about an Italian-American immigrant whose story of survival in a Japanese POW camp. Those wanting to whet their cinematic palete with a musical ventured to see Disney’s Into the Woods. The star power of Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, plus the likes of Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine propelled the Rob Marshall musical to a five-day haul of $46 million.
In the battle of family entertainment dollars, pre-Christmas holdovers Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie dropped to fourth and fifth place. The third installment in the Night at the Museum franchise must rely on its money overseas. That’s what happens when your production budget exceeds $125 million. Annie is closer in comparison to production and ad dollars, much to the delight of Sony Pictures. Speaking of Sony, its comedy The Interview played in limited release on 331 screens and made $1.8M. The film was also made available on VOD for $5.99 on YouTube. It was quickly pirated and watched by everyone in North Korea.
Paramount Pictures took a gamble with Mark Wahlberg and The Gambler and the result wasn’t quite a Royal Flush. With a mid-size budget ($25 million), expert direction by Rupert Wyatt and Wahlberg’s star presence, it should have finished in double digits. But with a spotty script and an unlikable protagonist it was difficult for audiences to want to gamble with their own money on this remake of the 1974 film.
The Weinstein Company finally made its move with The Imitation Game. The period drama set during the Second World War expanded from 64 screens to 747 screens and had an impressive per-screen average of $10,616. It finished the weekend with $7.9 million. The less said about Exodus the better as Ridley Scott’s epic is a huge knock against 20th Century Fox. Put it this way, Fox’s Son of God, which is a re-edit of a mini-series executive produced by Mark Burnett, has made more money in the U.S.
Rounding out the top ten is Fox Searchlight’s Wild. The Golden Globe nominee added more screens and in four weeks has earned $16.6 million. In limited and new release, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes made $2.98M on 1,307 screens, while Oscar hopefuls American Sniper and Selma made huge waves in limited locations. Clint Eastwood’s war drama about the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, Chris Kyle, broke records with its four-screen debut. On Christmas Day the film earned $240,000 from four venues. For the weekend it added another $610k to bring its total to $850k. Paramount’s hope for a Best Picture nominee, Selma, made $590k. And in the battle for foreign releases, IFC’s Two Days, One Night and Sony Pictures Classics’ Leviathan made $30.6k and $15.2k, respectively.
On tap for the first weekend of January 2015 is The Woman In Black 2: Angel of Death. No Harry Potter, no sale. Best to skip and get caught up on small movies like Wild, The Imitation Game or Unbroken. Then wait until the likes of Selma and American Sniper have expansion in mid-January.
01. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – $41.4 Million ($168.5M)
02. Unbroken – $31.7 Million ($47.3M)
03. Into the Woods – $31 Million ($46.1M)
04. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – $20.6 Million ($55.3M)
05. Annie (2014) – $16.6 Million ($45.8M)
06. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – $10 Million ($306.65M)
07. The Gambler – $9.3 Million ($14.3M)
08. The Imitation Game – $7.9 Million ($14.6M)
09. Exodus: Gods and Kings – $6.75 Million ($52.5M)
10. Wild (2014) – $5.4 Million ($16.3M)
Tags: American Sniper, box office, box office report, Into the Woods, The Gambler