December 27, 2014

HOLIDAY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE SCORECARD: Hobbit, Unbroken, Into the Woods Stay Strong


Hollywood continued to have box office gifts to unwrap on the day after Christmas.

WIDE RELEASE:  THE HOBBIT:  THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) gained 19% from Christmas Day on Friday to $15.7M, putting it back in first place, which it will probably hold for the 3-day weekend.  That 19% increase is better than the post-Christmas rises for either of the other Hobbits, although those movies had opened several days earlier on the calendar, so they weren’t in the same place on their trajectory.  The Dec. 26 increase wasn’t in a league with the 37% bump that Return of the King (which did have a parallel release) had in 2003.  Armies‘ 10-day US total so far is $142.8M (ahead of The Desolation of Smaug, although again that’s misleading because Smaug‘s release hadn’t hit Christmas yet), and it should have a $42M 3-day weekend, which would be down about 20% from its opening weekend–better than the 30% drop Return of the King had in the same period.

As expected, both UNBROKEN (Universal/Legendary) and INTO THE WOODS (Disney) dropped from their opening days, although each is holding extremely well.  Unbroken declined 21% to $12.3M, and Woods was just the whisker of a cow white as milk behind, down 19% to $12.2M.  On a normal weekend, Woods would be expected to gain the lead on Unbroken because of the Saturday matinee crowd, but since kids have been out of school already, it’s not clear if that will happen this time.  In any case, both movies are big hits, headed for around $33M for the 3-day weekend and $48M including Christmas Day, and both should top $100M by the end of the holidays.  Since both also have moderate production budgets (albeit huge marketing costs), they should prove profitable for their studios if they have any significant overseas appeal.

THE GAMBLER (Paramount) was rocky with a 31% Friday drop to $3.4M.  It’s going to be on the low end of Mark Wahlberg’s box-office scale, although it’s also relatively low-budget, so more a disappointment than a disaster for the studio.   BIG EYES (Weinstein) fell 26% from its opening day to $1M at 1307 theatres, and barring a surprise at the Golden Globes, it appears to be heading nowhere.

THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) also entered semi-wide release on Christmas Day with an increase to 747 theatres.  It held extremely well, down just 6% from Thursday to $2.9M, giving it a per-theatre average that was just slightly below Unbroken‘s and Hobbit‘s (and the latter has Imax and 3D ticket prices helping it out).  Fellow Oscar hopeful WILD (Fox Searchlight) increased its theatre count on Christmas Day by about 20% to 1285, and it’s getting strong word of mouth, evidenced by a 12% increase on Friday to $1.9M.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) inched up 2% from Thursday to $7.4M, and ANNIE (Columbia/Sony) rebounded from a so-so Thursday by 33% to $6.1M.  Both could near $20M for the 3-day weekend.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) had a robust 32% increase from Thursday to $3.6M and hit a milestone:  its US total is $300.2M.  If it can keep up this pace through the holidays, it still has a chance of overtaking Guardians of the Galaxy (currently at $332.7M) as the year’s #1 movie in the US.  The other big-canvas epic in the market didn’t fare so well, as EXODUS: GODS & KINGS (20th) fell 22% from Christmas Day to $2.4M.  With $48.1M to date, a US total of $100M now seems out of its grasp, and if it continues to falter, it might not even reach $75M.  TOP FIVE (Paramount) also looked shaky, down 7% to $1.4M and with $16.8M earned so far.

LIMITED RELEASE:  Considering the high pitch of excitement that accompanied its opening, THE INTERVIEW (Columbia/Sony) was inevitably going to take a hit on its 2d day of release.  It fell about 27% to $725K, still a fair result for a run at only 331 indie theatres.  We won’t really get a grip on how The Interview is performing until Sony announces whether it has to take a loss on the movie (more likely, how much of a loss), which will figure in the VOD revenues that the studio is keeping to itself.

AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners) fell 17% on Friday to a $50K average at 4 theatres, which will still give it one of the highest weekend per-theatre averages of the year.  SELMA (Paramount) was harder hit, down 35% at 19 theatres for an $11K average that’s solid but not wildly promising.

NEXT WEEK:  A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (A24) makes its limited debut on Wednesday for Oscar qualification purposes.  On Friday, THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity) will jump in as the first release of 2015 to mop up some revenues from mostly teen audiences that have exhausted all the high-profile movies in release.


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."