Peter Jackson’s final Middle Earth installment led a booming post-Christmas box office, while several Christmas Day openers exploded to bigger-than-expected results in both wide and limited release.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned an estimated $41.4 million, the biggest sophomore weekend of any Hobbit film. With a terrific $168.5 million after 12 days, the film is running slightly ahead of An Unexpected Journey. However, that title opened nearly a week earlier and could not benefit from several holiday day grosses. Regardless, a slim drop of 24% hints that the film’s appeal is still strong and will likely lead the box office for at least one more weekend. That second weekend hold is better than The Return of the King‘s in 2003 (-30%).
Meanwhile, it was a close race for second place between two big Christmas Day openers: Unbroken and Into the Woods. Angelina Jolie’s WWII drama earned a stellar $31.7 million to take the silver medal this weekend. The film completely shattered expectations on Christmas Day by taking in $15.6 million, an exceptional result for a movie with mixed reviews, a relatively unknown cast and lots of competition. However, the faith-based angle, a terrific marketing campaign and an inspiring true story were irresistible to many.
Unbroken‘s $47.3 million start over four days is better than past X-mas openers Django Unchained ($43 million) and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ($38.7 million). With much audience enthusiasm and appeal to older moviegoers, this film should have a long life in cinemas. A result of more than $150 million is likely, which should the film’s Oscar appeal.
In third place with similarly sizzling results was Disney’s Into the Woods, which packed movie houses over the weekend to earn $31 million (and $46.1 million since its Christmas Day opening). Since Thursday, the film has boasted the biggest per-theater average of all wide releases. (It played in 2,440 locations, compared to The Hobbit‘s 3,885.)
Even with a mediocre B CinemaScore, the film’s appeal to family audiences and older crowds should continue its healthy run into the New Year. It is only slightly behind the $48.8 million four-day gross of Les Miserables, and that musical had a much bigger fan base to boost its initial take. By Monday, Into the Woods could surpass the total gross of another Sondheim adaptation, 2007’s Sweeney Todd ($52.9 million).
After a mild opening last weekend, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb did something that the original film also did in 2006. It made more money in its sophomore frame. With an estimated $20.6 million, the film jumped 20% from last weekend. With $55.3 million so far, Secret of the Tomb should ultimately surpass the century mark. Meanwhile, another family-oriented opener from last weekend, Annie, also saw its grosses increase. With a 5% bump, the musical starring Jamie Foxx finished in fifth with $16.6 million. The $45.8 million total is decent, but is already behind the total of fellow musical Into the Woods, which opened six days later.