January 4, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Holiday Weekend Box Office – 1/4/15


OPENING:  THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2:  ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity) fell to 4th place for the weekend, as expected, after a strong opening day.  Still, a $15.1M haul for the cheap thriller isn’t at all bad, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a Woman in Black 3 come along in a year or two.  (The original Woman was released by CBS Films, which did well with it but let its rights lapse, probably because Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t going to be in the sequel.  That allowed Relativity to jump in.)

HOLDOVERS:  The holiday season ended as it began, with THE HOBBIT:  THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) on top, and INTO THE WOODS (Disney) and UNBROKEN (Legendary/Universal) close behind.  Hobbit 3 fell 47% to $21.9M for the weekend, similar to the 44% drop over New Year’s weekend for the final Lord of the Rings, which had an identical release pattern.  Compared to the other Hobbits (which opened on Fridays and earlier in December), Armies is, at $220.8M, right between the 19-day totals for An Unexpected Journey ($238M) and The Desolation of Smaug ($201.5M), keeping it on track for a $280M US total.  Overseas, the Hobbitses also led the way with a $52.5M weekend that gives Armies $502.1M.  With China still to come, it should end up close to the $700M-$714M international totals of the other Hobbit films.

Into the Woods hit $91.2M after a $19.1M weekend (down 39% from last weekend), and it faces no competition through January, so it should pass $125M and perhaps even higher.  It’s just begun its overseas run (it has $6M in a few territories), but if it has any international appeal at all, it should give Disney plenty of profit, especially with the genre’s strength in homevideo.  It’s in line to become the 5th biggest live-action musical of all time, and if it gets any significant awards notice, it even has a chance of catching #3 Les Miserables at $148.8M.  Unbroken had an $18.4M weekend (down 40%) that brought it to $87.8M, and will also hope for awards attention to extend its run–although it faces direct competition from the national expansion of American Sniper in 2 weeks.  Unbroken has also barely begun its international roll-out, with $6.8M in 11 territories.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) held nicely, down 29% to $14.5M, but its $89.7M total is only adequate for an expensive family spectacle (it cost roughly double the budget of Into the Woods), and its international total of $92M (after a $26M weekend) in 56 territories is less than thrilling.  It’s not likely to match the previous worldwide totals in the franchise of $574.5M for the original or $413.1M for the sequel, although its opening today in China will be key.  ANNIE (Columbia/Sony) fell 31% for an $11.4M weekend and $72.6M total, and will probably end up short of $100M in the US and needing overseas help to break even (so far it has $16.9M after a $4.2M weekend in just 21 territories).

The Christmas Day openings aside from Woods and Unbroken were far weaker.  THE GAMBLER (Paramount) fell 31% to $6.3M and has $27.6M so far.  BIG EYES (Weinstein) is holding well, but at a low level, down 13% to $2.6M, and with a $9.9M total.  The more-famous-than-successful THE INTERVIEW (Columbia/Sony) almost doubled its run at independent theatres to 581, but still fell 39% from opening weekend to $1.1M, with $4.9M to date.  The studio hasn’t updated its VOD/streaming results since announcing that the movie had earned $15M through December 27.

Whatever happens in the Oscar race, THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) has emphatically won the competition for audience affections among the indie contenders.  It actually rose 2% from last weekend to $8.1M, and its per-theatre average of $10.8K was the highest in the Top 20.  It’s taken in $30.8M so far, and there’s plenty of road ahead.  It’s also doing quite well overseas, with $32.9M after a $7.4M weekend.  On a somewhat lower level, WILD (Fox Searchlight) is also doing well, down 17% to $4.5M, with $25.8M to date.  THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) is also hanging in there, down 9% at 651 theatres for a $1.1M weekend and $24.8M total.

After 7 weeks of release, THE HUNGER GAMES:  MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) dropped just 24% from last weekend to $7.7M.  It’s at $323.9M in the US, within $10M of overtaking Guardians of the Galaxy as the nation’s #1 2014 release.  (It also has $371.6M overseas, not so close to Guardians‘ $439.6M.)  Although Ridley Scott’s EXODUS: GODS & MEN (20th) is a thudding flop in the US ($61.2M after a $3.7M weekend), it’s at $142.5M overseas and earned $31.6M this weekend.  With several major territories still to open, it should go over $200M internationally, which may be enough to part the red ink.

LIMITED RELEASE:  A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (A24) threw its hat in the awards ring with a solid $47K weekend average at 4 theatres.  Nothing, however, can touch AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners), which rose 1% from its giant start for a $160K average at 4 theatres, the highest ever second weekend average for a live-action film.  It also earned a tremendous $6.3M in Italy alone, its only international release so far.   SELMA increased its theatre count by 3 to 22, and increased 13% for a strong $29K average, as it prepares for its national expansion on Friday.  Among other Oscar hopefuls, FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) dipped 5% for a $3K average at 298 theatres; BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) was up 5% with a $3K average at 282 theatres; INHERENT VICE (Warners) climbed 18% for a $15K average at 16 theatres (it also expands on Friday); MR. TURNER (Sony Classics) fell 8% for a $9600 average at 24 theatres; and WHIPLASH (Sony Classics) gained 17% for a $2500 average at 84 theatres.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."