Box Office: 'Hobbit' Stays No. 1 Friday; 'Woman in Black 2' Surprise No. 2

Relativity Media
'Woman in Black 2'

'Unbroken' and 'Into the Woods' continue to prosper, while 'The Interview' sees sizable drop in theaters after expanding VOD footprint

Even without Daniel Radcliffe, British horror sequel The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is doing better-than-expected business in its North American debut, grossing $7.8 million Friday for a projected weekend north of $16 million.

Woman in Black 2 wasn't projected to earn anywhere near the big numbers of the The Woman in Black, which was a breakout hit when it opened in February 2012, debuting to $20.9 million on its way to $127.7 million worldwide. The follow-up, taking place 40 years after the events of the first film, was once again produced by Exclusive Media, Hammer Films and Entertainment One.

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Thanks to the strength of the horror sequel and a crop of strong holiday holdovers, the weekend could be up sharply over last year, welcome news after a troubled 2014, when revenue tumbled more than 5 percent over 2013 and attendance hit a two-decade low.

Relativity Media is releasing Woman in Black 2 in the U.S., where it placed No. 2 Friday behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which jumped the $200 million mark after taking in $8.4 million for the day. The final installment in Peter Jackson's trilogy will stay in the No. 1 position for its third consecutive weekend with an estimated $21.5 million, pushing its domestic total to north of $220 million for New Line and MGM.

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Fellow holiday holdovers Into the Woods and Unbroken likewise continue to prosper, and are expected to overtake Woman in Black 2 sometime on Saturday and once again end the weekend in a close race (Unbroken is given a slight edge).

From Disney, Rob Marshall's Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp, earned another $7.5 million Friday for a projected $19 million weekend. The star-studded musical will finish Sunday with a North American total north of $91 million. 

Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, from Universal, took in $7.4 million Friday and is expected to gross north of $19 million for a domestic total of more than $89 million.

Fox's family-friendly Night at the Museum, reteaming director Shawn Levy and actor Ben Stiller, will battle Woman in Black 2 for the weekend's No. 4 spot and will end Sunday with more than $91 million in North American ticket sales.

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The other high-profile Christmas release, Sony's The Interview, is seeing a sizable drop-off in its second weekend in theaters as the controversial Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy expands its VOD footprint to cable carriers, satellite and telecom. The movie is expected to gross $1 million for the weekend, compared to a four-day Christmas debut of $2.8 million (and $1.8 million for the three-day weekend), despite upping its theater count from 331 to 581.

Among specialty award contenders, The Weinstein Co.'s The Imitation Game continues to rank in the top 10, and should end the weekend with a domestic cume north of $30 million. That's ahead of TWC's Oscar-winning The King's Speech, which had earned $22.9 million at the same point in its run (Harvey Weinstein's team used the same release plan for both films).

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Still playing in only four theaters, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper is turning in another round of impressive numbers in its second weekend for a mighty per screen average of roughly $168,900.

Also in its second weekend in limited release is Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. drama Selma, which is playing in 22 theaters and is on course for a pleasing screen average north of $27,000.

A new entry at the specialty box office is J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. The drama, released by A24 Films in the U.S., is pacing to post a strong screen average in the $42,000 range.

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