Weekend Box-Office: Final ‘Hobbit’ Film At #1 For 3 Weeks Running; ‘American Sniper’ Has Another Great Limited Weekend

Weekend Box-Office: Final ‘Hobbit’ Film At #1 For 3 Weeks Running; 'American Sniper' Has Another Great Limited Weekend
Weekend Box-Office: Final ‘Hobbit’ Film #1 3 Weeks Running; 'American Sniper' Has Another Great Limited Weekend

The box-office is a long-distance runner’s event, never a sprint, so you should never drive the nail in the coffin prematurely. Case in point: despite the lowest-grossing opening of any ‘Hobbit’ film, Warner Bros.’ “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies” (a 35% drop from the first film), looks like it may become the most successful of all three films when all is said and done. The third ‘Hobbit’ picture is also on track to outgross “Transformers: Age Of Extinction” and become the highest grossing film of 2014. The picture is basically pacing the same as ‘An Unexpected Journey,’ and after three weeks of domestic release sits at $220 million in North American (‘Journey’ sat at $221 million three weeks in). Comparatively, ‘Transformers 4’ grossed $245 million in its entire fifteen-week domestic run.

Globally, ‘The Hobbit’ is at a massive $500 million overseas after four weeks of release, making for a worldwide total of $723 million. ‘Hobbit 3’ has actually already outrun ‘Age Of Extinction,’ which was at $662 million after four weeks. Considering its domestic run will be lapped likely by next week and overseas is already being vigorously outpaced, it should only be a matter of weeks before Peter Jackson’s movie is crowned the number one movie of last year (though the Oscars won’t be celebrating this achievement like they did ‘Return Of The King’). Considering China won’t open the film until January 23rd, it seems ‘Battle Of The Five’ Armies is going to crush Michael Bay‘s movie by a considerable margin at this super-impressive rate.

Though it had no Daniel Radcliffe in the lead and no stars to speak of, Relativity’s “Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death” hauled in a surprisingly good $15 million opening in a very dead week of release. But evidently audiences need something to see (its 24% Rotten Tomatoes score suggest a big nothing). Still, the only new film in wide release this weekend, it was no match for “Into The Woods” with Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken.” Astonishingly (and rather quietly), in two weeks of release the Disney’s Sondheim musical has grossed over $90 million and will easily surpass the $100 million mark next weekend (only a small 38.6% drop from last weekend). Oscar nominations, should they come, and let’s assume at least a few will, will only help. $200 million domestic total? At this trajectory it seems possible. Universal’s “Unbroken” looks poised for Oscar-nomination plaudits too (despite being mediocre) and it has almost hit the $90 million mark in two weeks (a 40% drop). This is a remarkable figure for dramas/musicals that have no superheroes in the lead and demonstrates just how healthy the holiday box-office has been.

Falling only 28% in its third week, “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” is still doing well and recovering from its unremarkable debut weekend. The family comedy is also zeroing in on $100 million at home, and while it hasn’t caught on internationally yet, there are still tons of territories to go. Also still hanging in there with only a 30% drop in its third week, Sony’s “Annie” is doing decently as well and should be able to hit close to $100 million before all is said and done.

The Weinstein Company’s “The Imitation Game” is just exploding in expanding release. Still on less than 1,000 screens (just 727), the movie has grossed an amazing $30 million in six weeks of limited release. Compare that with another TWC success story, “St. Vincent.” That Bill Murray vehicle is the 2nd highest grossing indie of 2014 with $43 million, but it took twelve weeks to get that far. Having not even broken 1,000 screens and surely due for several Oscar nominations, the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring movie is surely going to whiz by that figure soon. And given that it could be up for Best Picture, Best Actor and other major awards, there’s a good chance “The Imitation Game” will be able to surpass 2014’s #1 indie release “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (which currently sits at $59 million, but with a re-release on the way and Oscar nominations also a possibility, that number’s surely going to rise too).

Falling only 23.5% in its seventh week of release, there is still an appetite for Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.” The movie is 2014’s 2nd highest grossing release domestically, and given that the tentpole is only $10 million away from surpassing “Guardians Of The Galaxy,” which stayed in theaters for 22 weeks to reach that number ($332 million), it seems inevitable that the third ‘Hunger Games’ film will surpass it in a few weeks to take the top 2014 domestic box-office crown. Though it should be said that the third film softened overseas. ‘Mockingjay’ is at $695 million right now and doesn’t seem like it will be able to go near the $864 million ‘Catching Fire‘ earned worldwide in 2013. Perhaps this is the minor cautionary tale for film finales split in two, but given that another film arrives in 2015, it’s all gravy for the studio.

Its opening was so-so, but $27 million for Mark Wahlberg’sThe Gambler” after two weeks is not too bad for an adult drama (contrast that to the comparatively dark “Nightcrawler” which made $31 million after ten weeks of release). In the 10th spot, “Big Hero 6” has made $211 million in nine weeks of domestic release. Unfortunately, its foreign release hasn’t taken off yet ($378 million worldwide), but that said, China and several big markets have yet to open. Can “Interstellar” hit the $200 million mark? After nine weeks it sits at $182 million, but if Paramount leave it in theaters for up to fifteen weeks or so (which seems perfectly reasonable), at this rate (made $2.4 million) this seems perfectly feasible (Oscar nominations could help too; worldwide Christopher Nolan‘s movie is at $653 million).

In limited release, opening on December 31, A24‘s “A Most Violent Year” had a very strong opening: $188,000 from four screens for a 47K per screen average; the 7th highest of 2014. What happened to Sony‘s “The Interview” considering it’s now on more than 580 screens (up 250 from last week)? Well despite the expansion, it fell almost 39% and has only grossed $1.1 million theatrically. But that film’s story is now a VOD one. It already made $15 million in week one of VOD and that number has probably doubled considering there’s almost no regular VOD carrier that isn’t hosting the controversial picture.

Still performing spectacularly in limited release is Warner Bros’American Sniper.” Last weekend it became the 2nd highest grossing debut in limited release. Now on four screens, its per screen average ($160,000) is actually even a tad higher in its second week of limited release, which is unheard of. The Clint Eastwood drama has made $2.1 million in two weeks of release on no more than four screens so far (another remarkable figure) and if it’s in the cards for a late-game Oscar rally, WB will surely open this movie wide to major grosses. “Selma,” (+12.9% in week two),”The Theory of Everything” and “Birdman” are all still doing well in limited release and surely due for multiple Oscar nominations, their screens and grosses are surely going to skyrocket subsequent to those announcements. Still strong in limited release is Fox Searchlight‘s “Wild” which has lapped “Birdman” and “Theory Of Everything” in domestic grosses despite being in theaters for far fewer weeks. The Reese Witherspoon-starring picture stands at $25.8 million (“Birdman” is at $25.4M, ‘Theory of Everything’  at $24.8M).

Say bye bye to Ridley Scott’sExodus: Gods And Kings” from the top 10, and Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes” was never going to break into the fold, but the latter film is still holding on rather incredibly: a 12.6% drop in week two and almost $10 million earned after two weeks is not bad at all given it barely cracked the top fifteen in its debut. Still only on 16 screens and a $239,000 domestic gross total, it remains to be seen if Warner Bros.’ “Inherent Vice” is going to make much of a mark on its wide release date of January 9th.

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies —
$21,910,000 ($220,767,000)
2. Into the Woods — $19,066,000 ($91,209,000)
3. Unbroken — $18,358,000($87,801,000)
4. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death — ($15,145,000)
5. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb — $14,450,000 ($89,726,000)
6. Annie — $11,400,000 ($72,600,000)
7. The Imitation Game — $8,111,000 ($30,808,000)
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 — $7,700,000 ($323,875,000)
9. The Gambler — $6,300,000 ($27,566,000)
10. Big Hero 6 — $4,816,000 ($211,268,000)

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