December 25, 2014

CHRISTMAS EVE BOX OFFICE: Not Entirely Silent Night For “Into the Woods” and “The Hobbit”


December 24, along with December 31, will be the lowest box office days of the holiday season, because so many people have non-movie plans those nights.  Nevertheless, INTO THE WOODS (Disney) had a highly promising start with screenings that began at 7PM on Christmas Eve, earning $1.1M.  (That compares with the $325K that Annie made in its Thursday night showings a week ago.)  Woods has an odd potentially split appeal, with a fairy-tale theme for families but its Stephen Sondheim pedigree likely to draw older, more sophisticated audiences.  If the movie, which has received largely favorable reviews (73% on Rotten Tomatoes) can satisfy both those crowds, it could be a powerful draw during the holiday season.

UNBROKEN (Universal/Legendary) also started fairly well with $860K in Tuesday night screenings.  It’s facing more critical resistance (a 50/50 split on Rotten Tomatoes) than had once been envisioned, and it probably needs to perform extremely well at the box office if it’s to play any role in awards season.

THE GAMBLER (Paramount) and BIG EYES (Weinstein) have not released Christmas Eve box office figures, and although there are anecdotal accounts of THE INTERVIEW (Columbia/Sony) selling out in its early showings, it’s at just 331 independent theatres, so its total numbers won’t be huge.  (Sony has also said that it has no plans to release specifics about its online VOD results.)

As for movies playing a full day on December 24, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) remained well in the lead, dropping 39% from Monday to $6M,, which is almost exactly the same percentage result that Return of the King had on Christmas Eve in 2003 (Return also opened on a Wednesday in a year where Christmas and New Years were on Thursdays). Armies has $114M to date, putting it midway between the 7-day results for An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, and 30% behind where Return of the King was at this point in its run.  All of those comparisons suggest Armies will end up around $270-280M in the US.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) fell 33% to $2.8M, with $27.4M in the US to date.  But word of mouth may be catching up with ANNIE (Columbia/Sony), which dropped 43% to $2M ($24.6M so far).  The arrival of Into the Woods, along with Annie‘s own lousiness, may prove a lethal combination.  All the day’s other holdovers earned less than $1M on Tuesday.

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."