December 20, 2014

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Hobbit” Leaps; “Annie” and “Museum” OK; “Inherent Vice” Stalls


After a sub-par Thursday, preliminary numbers at Deadline have THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) surging to $16.1M on Friday.  If that number holds, it will be a tremendous 62% jump from Thursday, which would be a better percentage result than any of the Lord of the Rings movies (which all opened on December Wednesdays) managed on their first Fridays: Fellowship of the Ring rose by 47%, The Two Towers by 39%, and Return of the King by 28%.  That could give Armies a $53M 3-day weekend and $87M since Wednesday, which would be slightly better than the $86.1M 5-day take for Desolation of Smaug (which opened on a Friday), although it remains to be seen whether Armies can stay at this strength all weekend.

ANNIE (Sony/Columbia) and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) are both aimed at the same family audience, and both opened with around $6M on Friday, headed for $18-19M over the weekend.  Those are moderate starts, but with the Christmas Day arrivals mostly adult-oriented (except for Disney’s Into the Woods), the pair will hope to clean up over the long holiday stretch.  Somewhat unaccountably, the dreadful Annie apparently scored well in opening night exit polls, so its word-of-mouth may be stronger than it deserves.

WILD (Fox Searchlight) widened its run to general release at 1061 theatres, and is having a fair start with $1.15M on Friday that may give it a $4M weekend, about a $4K per-theatre average, which would be considerably less than Annie or Museum, both of which should average around $6K at triple the number of theatres.

The main victim of The Hobbit‘s arrival was EXODUS: GODS & KINGS (20th), which utterly collapsed on Friday, down 74% from last Friday to $2.3M, on its way to a $8M weekend.  Exodus will sell tickets through the holidays, but now seems as though it may not pass $75M in the US, which means it will require massive overperformance internationally just to break even on its $275M production/marketing cost.

Even though there were no new comedies in the market, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE (Paramount) held badly as well, down 63% from last Friday to under $1M, despite increasing its theatre count by 30% to 1307.  It’s headed for a $3M weekend and not more than a $2500 per-theatre average, a particular disappointment not only because Top Five is terrific, but because it seemed to be the movie best-placed to take advantage of the sudden absence of The Interview in the holiday crop as the only other R-rated comedy around.

THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks Animation/20th) and BIG HERO 6 (Disney) held their own despite the new family movies in town, down respectively 37% and 29% from last Friday for $3.5-4M weekends.  However, Penguins is still unlikely to hit $100M in the US, while Hero is gunning for $200M.

Besides Wild, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus/Universal) is the other Oscar hopeful in wide release, although it conservatively cut its run by 200 theatres this weekend to 1011, and nevertheless fell 42% from last Friday.  It’s headed for a $1.5M weekend, a blah $1500 per-theatre average.  BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) also reduced its footprint, to 452 theatres, and fell a softer 27% from last Friday, on its way to a $900K weekend and a $2K average.

FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) finally made its move into wider release with a jump to 308 theatres, which may give it a $1M weekend and an average a bit above $3K.

INHERENT VICE (Warners) stayed at 5 theatres for a 2d weekend, and so far is showing very little staying power, with a 75% plunge from last Friday that could give it a $24K weekend average, still a decent number, but not impressive for such an exclusive run.  By comparison, There Will Be Blood also had a $25K average in its 2d weekend–but that was after an expansion to 51 theatres.

THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) is continuing to pursue a cautious strategy, adding 9 theatres for a total of 34.  So far, it’s working fine, on its way to a weekend that should give it a $22K average.

This weekend’s limited opening MR. TURNER (Sony Classics) is off to an OK start, with a likely $17.5K average at 5 NY/LA 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."