Box Office: 'Hobbit,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Unbroken' Lead Rousing End to Holiday
'Woman in Black 2' also contributes to a strong weekend, while 'The Interview' sees a big drop despite expanding its theater count
Led by Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, a strong slate of Christmas holdovers and new entry The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death drove revenue up more than 8 percent as the prosperous holiday season came to a close.
The spike in moviegoing is welcome news for Hollywood after an overall troubled 2014, when revenue tumbled more than 5 percent over 2013 and attendance hit a two-decade low.
New Line and MGM's Hobbit topped the North American chart for the third consecutive weekend, earning $21.9 million to jump the $200 million mark and finish Sunday with a domestic total of $220.8 million. Overseas, the final film in the trilogy also continued to dominate as it crossed the $500 million mark, earning $52.5 million from 65 markets for a running global total of $722.9 million (it doesn't open in China until Jan. 23).
Rob Marshall's musical Into the Woods and Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, which has done far more business than expected, placed No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in their second weekends. Into the Woods, aided by a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, took in $19.1 million for a domestic total of $91.2 million and early worldwide haul of $97 million for Disney.
Unbroken, about World War II hero Louis Zamperini, grossed $18.4 million for a domestic total of $87.8 million.
Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death came in No. 4 with a strong $15.1 million. Without Daniel Radcliffe, no one was sure how the sequel would fare. The horror film galvanized younger moviegoers, with 62 percent of ticket buyers under the age of 25. The first The Woman in Black debuted to $20.9 million in February 2012 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. Relativity Media acquired U.S. rights to Women in Black 2 for $1 million. "This is a fantastic way to kick off the New Year," said Relativity distribution chief Kyle Davies. "Younger moviegoers are still out of school, and they were looking for something just for them, and not for families."
In its third weekend, Fox's family-friendly Night at the Museum, reteaming director Shawn Levy and actor Ben Stiller, rounded out the top five with $14.5 million for a domestic total of $89.7 million. Internationally, the threequel grossed $26 million from 56 markets for foreign total of $92.4 million and world cume of $182.1 million.
Sony's family entry Annie, also in its third weekend, grew its domestic total to $72.6 million after earning another $11.4 million. The musical placed No. 6 domestically, while earning another $4.2 million overseas from its first 21 markets for a foreign cume of $16.9 million and worldwide total of $89.5 million.
Among specialty award contenders, The Weinstein Co.'s The Imitation Game raced past the $30 million mark as it moved up the chart in North America to No. 7, grossing $8.1 million from only 754 theaters for a total of $30.8 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).
Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, is also making waves overseas, grossing north of $7.4 million over the weekend as it opened in six more markets for an early foreign total of $32.9 million and world haul of $63.7 million. FilmNation is handling the Alan Turing biopic internationally.
Another high-profile Christmas release, Sony's The Interview, saw a sizable drop-off in its second weekend in theaters as the controversial Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy expanded its VOD footprint to cable carriers, satellite and telecom.
Despite upping its theater count from from 331 to 581, The Interview tumbled more than 40 percent to $1.1 million for a theatrical total of $4.8 million.
Among older holdovers, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 placed No. 8 domestically for a North American total of $323.9 million and world cume of $695.5 million. And Disney's Big Hero 6 made a reappearance on the top 10 chart, earning $4.8 million for a domestic total of $211.3 million. Overseas, where it has been rolling out slowly, Big Hero 6 grossed $20.2 million from 53 markets for an international cume of $167.4 million and global total of $378.7 million.
Like The Imitation Game, a number of other awards contenders continued to gain momentum at the box office, while J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, posted an impressive five-day debut of $300,000 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a screen average of $75,000. Released by A24 Films in the U.S. and produced by Participant Media, the drama's weekend take was $188,000 for a screen average of $47,000.
Among holdovers, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper turned in another round of impressive numbers in its second weekend, grossing $640,000 from four theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas for a mighty per screen average of $160,020 and cume of $2.3 million. American Sniper, from Warner Bros., opens nationwide Jan. 16.
In Italy, American Sniper launched to an outstanding $6.3 million, Eastwood's biggest opening of all time and a huge number for a non-franchise title.
Also in its second weekend in limited release, Ava DuVernay's civil rights drama Selma, starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. earned $645,000 from 22 theaters for a pleasing screen average of $29,318 and cume of $2.1 million. Selma, from Paramount, continues to spark debate over its historical accuracy and opens nationwide Jan. 9, the week before the MLK holiday.
Among other films playing in select runs, Bollywood blockbuster P.K. has become the No. 1 Bollywood title of all time in North America, earning $9 million to date from less than 300 theaters, as well as the top-grossing release of all time in India with $65.2 million. UTV, owned by Disney, is distributing the movie, which to date has cumed $86.2 million globally.
Here are the estimated top 10 films for the weekend of Jan. 2-4 at the domestic box office:
Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume
1. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, 3/3,875, Warner Bros., $21.9 million, -46%, $220.8 million
2. Into the Woods, 2/2,538, Disney, $19.1 million, -39%, $91.2 million
3. Unbroken, 2/3,190, Universal, $18.4 million, -40%, $87.8 million
4. The Woman in Black 2, 1/2,601, Relativity, $15.1 million
5. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, 3/3,802, Fox, $14.5 million, -28%, $89.7 million
6. Annie, 3/3,166, Sony, $11.4 million, -31%, $72.6 million
7. The Imitation Game, 6/754, Weinstein, $8.1 million, +2%, $30.8 million
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, 7/2,505, Lionsgate, $7.7 million, -23%, $323.9 million
9. The Gambler, 2/2,494, Paramount, $1.4 million, -31%, $27.6 million
10. Big Hero 6, 9/1,913, Disney, $4.8 million, -4%, $211.3 million
Jan. 4, 11 a.m. Updated with international numbers