The Hobbit outshone the new releases this holiday weekend, but it was good news all around for the Christmas box office, as Disney's Into the Woods and Universal's Unbroken both defied expectations and came in very strong, neck and neck since opening on Thursday, Christmas Day. The Battle of the Five Armies grossed $41 million over the weekend, a slim 24% drop since last week, making it on track to at least match the last movie's $258 million total.
Meanwhile, Unbroken managed to overcome the bad reviews to earn $31 million over the weekend and $47 million since Christmas, which was way above expectations for the WWII drama. It did come with a hardcore fanbase, since the book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand has been on the bestseller list for years, and as always with these kinds of films, there's a built-in audience of conservative Christian moviegoers (think Passion of the Christ fans). But Into the Woods was no slouch this weekend either, making $31 million and $46 million since Thursday, right behind Unbroken and in line with Les Miserables's debut two years ago. It did receive a middling "B" Cinemascore though, so it's uncertain how high it can climb in the end. The rest of the top six was filled out by Night at the Museum, Annie and The Hunger Games, which all received the usual holiday boost.
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies- $41.4 million
- Unbroken- $31.7 million
- Into the Woods- $31 million
- Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb- $20.6 million
- Annie- $16.6 million
In other news, The Imitation Game expanded to 747 theaters and earned a stellar $7.9 million, cracking its way into the top ten and tracking significantly ahead of The King's Speech at this point four years ago (and with Oscar nominations still to come). Clint Eastwood's American Sniper had a sensational opening in limited release, earning a scorching $152k per screen average on 4 screens, for the second biggest debut of the year, so that can be expected to be big hit when it platforms out. Selma opened at 19 locations for a solid PTA at $31k, but it will expand wider on January 9th, hopefully with awards buzz to increase the hype. Finally, The Gambler and Big Eyes both disappointed in wide release, while The Interview (you may have heard something about that one last week) opened in 331 theaters for $2 million total since Christmas, but it's also available for rent on Youtube and Xbox live. Whew. Well, that's it for this year folks. Next week there's the limited opening of the final 2014 release A Most Violent Year, but for the next month it will be all Oscar hopefuls trying to make money off awards hype as the various end of year ceremonies begin to roll out. Happy New Year everyone!