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Friday Box Office: ‘Hobbit’ Finale Bests First Day of ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘Annie’

Friday Box Office: 'Hobbit' Finale Bests First Day of 'Night at the Museum' and 'Annie'

Exact comparisons to the previous two Peter Jackson adaptations of the Tolkien classic are tricky since the first two opened on Fridays (roughly a week earlier) and with less competition.  But the $51 million total so far added to the $122 million banked from its foreign haul through Thursday makes this already a success, more so with the best moviegoing days of the season still ahead.

The other two openers posted encouraging if not yet decisive numbers (the real indication of how strong films will ultimately perform won’t come until next Thursday and right after). And both are family films, meaning their response today will be more telling. That said, “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (20th Century Fox) at $5.6 million bested “Annie” (Sony) at $5.3, though the latter played on 669 fewer theaters. Both have a chance to thrive ahead.

But despite the positive results (badly needed balm for a reeling industry after the climax of this week’s Sony hacking fiasco) some signals persist that all is not well. Despite a new “Hobbit” and two other decent openings, the daily total of $47 million for the Top Ten still fell short of $51 million last year (which again was the second week for the middle “Hobbit” entry). The Wednesday opening for part three of course of course reduced its comparative initial Friday take. But last year’s other two openers both grossed better than “Museum” and “Annie” their first day – “Anchorman 2” took in $8.7 million, “American Hustle” $6.5. So the beat of discouraging comparisons goes on.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” (Lionsgate) took fourth with $2.3, strong enough to guarantee it should hold most dates though New Years’. But the prognosis is grim for “Exodus” (20th Century Fox), which grossed less than $2.3 million compared to last Friday’s initial nearly $8.9. Its chances of recovering ahead look less than promising.

“Wild” (Fox Searchlight), playing at fewer than a third as many theaters as the top five placed an impressive sixth with $1,175,000 and looks like the breakout performer among the late year awards contenders. Chris Rock’s “Top Five” jumped to 1,050 theaters for a decent $1,050,000 and also a decent position for further expansion.

Three pre-Thanksgiving releases, all fighting to hold through the holidays, took the remaining slots. As expected, the longer running “Big Hero 6″ (Buena Vista) leaped over “Penguins of Madagascar” (20th Century Fox) although narrowly ($883,000 and $875,000 respectively). “Interstellar” (Paramount) rounds out the list with $775,000.

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