January 2, 2015

New Year’s Box Office: The Usual Suspects Hold Their Lead In 2015


A touch of new blood (so to speak) hit multiplexes with the Thursday night arrival of THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity).  Its $1.5M result was fairly high for such a low-budget horror item, but then again few if any movies have had their Thursday night screenings as the only new opening on a national holiday, which gave Woman an unusual level of opportunity.  It’s still not expected to have much impact over the full holiday weekend.

The rest of the first results of 2015 were in line with the pattern of this entire holiday season.  THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line/MGM/Warners) was on top with $9.3M, giving it a 56% bump from relatively low-grossing New Year’s Eve, and a $198.9M total so far.  Compared to Return of the King, which had an identical release pattern with Christmas and New Year’s on Thursdays, the 55% increase was below King‘s 70% New Year’s bump.  The 16-day $198.9M total puts Armies above the $181.1M for The Desolation of Smaug but below the $211.9M for An Unexpected Journey (and below all the Lord of the Rings movies except the very first).  Armies should be at around $220M in the US by Sunday.

INTO THE WOODS (Disney) and UNBROKEN (Universal/Legendary) have been very close in the #2-#3 slots since they opened, and on New Year’s it was Woods’ turn to lead with $8.1M and a $72.2M total.  It should have $90M in the bank by Sunday.  Unbroken wasn’t far behind with a $6.9M holiday and $69.4M so far.  It’s headed for $85M by the end of the holiday.  Both will ultimately top $100M, although their final results may depend on awards-season traction.

The next tier of holiday releases has been made up of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th) and ANNIE (Sony).  On Thursday, Museum earned $5.9M, giving it $75.3M so far, which should put it near $90M by Sunday.  Annie sold another $4.3M of tickets on Thursday, for a $61.2M total and perhaps $71M by Sunday.  Museum should end up over the $100M mark (still far lower than the $250.8M/$177.2M from the earlier chapters in the series), while Annie will struggle to get there.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART I (Lionsgate) has held on tenaciously as 6 weeks of new openings have come into the market, and it raised another $2.9M on Thursday for a $316.2M total.  By Sunday it will be over $320M, inching ever closer to Guardians of the Galaxy and its $332.9M 2014-leading total.

The Oscar campaign for THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) is in full swing, with 2-page ads in the LA Times that suggest it’s Alan Turing himself rather than the movie that’s vying for an Oscar.  Imitation isn’t currently at the top level of Oscar hopefuls, but never underestimate Harvey Weinstein at this time of year.  In any case, it’s working at the box office, where Imitation, still at only 747 theatres, earned an excellent $2.7M on Thursday, with $22.7M so far.  By mid-January, it should be the #2 limited release of the year, behind only The Grand Budapest Hotel.  WILD (Fox Searchlight) is also holding nicely, with $1.6M on Thursday (in 1285 theatres) for a $21.3M total.

The other Christmas Day openings are weak and weaker.  THE GAMBLER (Paramount) added $2.4M on Thursday for $21.3M, still headed for a $40M total that’s not great for a wide-release Mark Wahlberg movie.  BIG EYES (Weinstein) took in $1M on Thursday for $7.3M.

THE INTERVIEW (Columbia/Sony) found another few hundred independent theatres to open the movie on New Year’s, but only added $300K from what is now a 580-theatre run.  It’s at $3.8M on big screens, and Sony hasn’t issued any update to its VOD/streaming results that were $15M as of December 27.  (The studio added iTunes and an assortment of cable/satellite VOD services after that date.)

In limited release, AMERICAN SNIPER (Warners) is still red-hot, with what should be a $50K per-theatre average at 4 for the 3-day weekend.  SELMA (Paramount) is also strong but somewhat softer, heading for a $25K average at 22.



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."