Debuting with solid results in fourth place was The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, which grossed $15.1 million. Even with a lot of strong holiday performers, a lack of star power and minimal advertising, horror fans have not had much to choose from since October and came out in bigger-than-expected numbers. The sequel started behind the $20.9 million opening of its predecessor, but that was expected given how Daniel Radcliffe was a driving factor in that earlier film’s success.
Although the first weekend of January is now a prime spot to debut a low-budget horror film, every opener in the last three years (The Devil Inside, Texas Chainsaw 3D and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) has earned at least 25% of its total gross on its opening day. With a $7.8 million take on Friday, The Woman in Black 2 could struggle to get to $30 million if it follows a similar pattern.
In fifth place was Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which dropped only 28% to earn $14.5 million in its third frame. After a soft start two weekends ago, families and younger audiences came out in droves over the holiday. The Ben Stiller comedy has already earned $89.7 million and is on its way to a total of at least $120 million (or around half the final North American gross of the original Night at the Museum).
The most impressive results at the box office this weekend, however, came from some major awards contenders. The Imitation Game added only seven theaters yet jumped 2% to earn $8.1 million and take seventh place. With $30.8 million in its coffers so far along with major awards buzz, the film should have a leggy run over the next two months. In comparison, The King’s Speech earned $7.8 million over the New Year’s weekend in 2011 from a similar number of theaters before a terrific run on its way to a Best Picture Oscar that year.
Meanwhile, fellow Oscar contenders American Sniper and Selma also grew their audiences. Clint Eastwood’s thriller earned a jaw-dropping $640,000 from only four theaters, even increasing 1% from its bravura opening last weekend. The film has grossed $2.2 million from only that handful of cinemas in 11 days, hinting at a huge opening when it goes wide on Jan. 16. Selma also leaped 13% to earn $645,000 from just 22 theaters for a staggering per-screen average of almost $30,000. With a $2.1 million take so far and possible Golden Globe wins next weekend, Selma is well on its way to a strong box office run in January. The historical drama expands to wide release on Friday.
Finally, A Most Violent Year kicked off 2015 with a most promising box office take. The drama starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain opened to $188,000 from four theaters, and $300,000 since its New Year’s Eve berth. The National Board of Review winner for Best Picture is hoping to gain some Oscar nominations and is set to expand to wide release on Jan. 30.
Here are the numbers for the Top 10 films at the North American box office for the weekend of January 2 through 4, 2015:
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – $21.9 million ($220.8 million total)
2. Into the Woods – $19.1 million ($91.2 million total)
3. Unbroken – $18.4 million ($87.8 million total)
4. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death – $15.1 million (NEW)
5. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – $14.5 million ($89.7 million total)
6. Annie – $11.4 million ($72.6 million total)
7. The Imitation Game – $8.1 million ($30.8 million total)
8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – $7.7 million ($323.9 million total)
9. The Gambler – $6.3 million ($27.6 million total)
10. Big Hero 6 – $4.8 million ($211.3 million total)
NOTE: These numbers are weekend estimates based on Friday and Saturday’s estimated takes. Actual numbers for the three-day weekend are reported on Monday afternoon.