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The final Bible-based film in a year full of faith-inspired stories, Exodus: Gods and Kings, earned an estimated $8.6 million Friday as it marches toward the No. 1 domestic spot for the weekend.
Directed by Ridley Scott, Exodus is on track to earn around $25 million in its debut, which would allow it to take the top spot from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, now in its fourth week.
The 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment film, an epic based on the story of Moses (Christian Bale), earned a B- Cinemascore. While Exodus will not open to the same big numbers as its fellow big-budget biblical epic Noah ($43.7 million), Exodus is expected to have longer legs as the holiday season continues. Films opening in December tend to have strong multiples. However, Exodus will face stiff competition during a crowded holiday season that includes The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, family musical Annie, Disney’s Into the Woods and Fox’s threequel Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.
This weekend’s other new offering, Chris Rock’s Top Five, took third place Friday with an estimated $2.5 million from 979 locations. The Paramount comedy, about a comedian (Rock) who wants to be a serious actor, is on track for a $7 million domestic debut.
Top Five will expand in the coming weeks as Paramount hopes word-of-mouth and positive reviews will help bring people to theaters to see the film, which was written and directed by Rock.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 was in second place Friday, grossing an estimated $3.8 million Friday for a weekend cume of $12.5 million. Lionsgate’s YA adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence topped the box office for the past three weekends.
Fox’s spinoff Penguins of Madagascar placed fourth Friday with $1.6 million. The family film is expected to pull ahead of Top Five for the weekend and move into third place with a total of about $7 million for its third weekend.
Fifth place Friday went to Christopher Nolan‘s space epic Interstellar with $1.5 million, but Disney Big Hero 6, which earned $1.4 million Friday, is expected to get a boost and take the fifth spot with a weekend total of around $6.2 million.
Several awards films are also continue their limited release runs, with some doing bustling business. Inherent Vice opened in limited release in five theaters in New York and L.A., expected to earn around $351,000 for its first weekend. Joaquin Phoenix stars, and just earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
Theory of Everything took ninth place Friday with $737,000 in 1,220 theaters while Reese Witherspoon-starrer Wild placed 10th with $475,000 Friday in 116 theaters, up 179 percent from a week ago. Birdman, which topped the Golden Globe nominations Thursday, took in $375,000 Friday in 606 theaters for an uptick of 20 percent. The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch who received both a SAG and a Golden Globe nomination this past week, had a 128 percent uptick with $247,000 Friday.
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