Peter Jackson’s (likely) final sojourn into Middle Earth was also, unsurprisingly, a popular destination for moviegoers during this pre-Christmas weekend. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies hopped over the competition and earned a strong estimated $56.2 million, and $90.6 million since its launch on Tuesday evening. That five-day gross was slightly above the opening three-day take of An Unexpected Journey ($84.6 million in 2012) and the first five days of The Desolation of Smaug ($86.1 million).
However, it was below the five-day take of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($102 million), which also opened on a Wednesday before the pre-holiday weekend. While that title had lower ticket prices, it was also the sequel to a beloved film. The reaction to Peter Jackson’s Hobbit titles has been more muted than his original trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels.
Nevertheless, its solid performance over the weekend is a good sign for the film moving forward. It easily busted the two family openers below it, and had a relatively strong weekend take despite already earning $34.4 million during its opening two days. Its Thursday to Friday jump was higher than any of the leaps from the Lord of the Rings films in their five-day openings, hinting that this film may not be as front-loaded. With only two wide releases to tend with on Christmas Day – Into the Woods and Unbroken – and a strong A- CinemaScore, expect The Battle of the Five Armies to earn low-to-mid double-digits on every day (save Christmas Eve) for the rest of the year.
Debuting far behind in second place was another trilogy capper, Night of the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb, with an estimated $17.3 million. The five-and-a-half year wait since its predecessor mixed with a lot of family competition did not create any major rush-out factor for this comedy adventure – one that many kids have likely outgrown. The film debuted at only 57% of the level of the original, which also had to deal with Christmas Eve on its opening Sunday. That film had superb legs though, due to little competition for young audiences over its holiday session – something that Secret of the Tomb cannot boast.
Regardless, the film could surge in the coming few weeks. The first Night of the Museum earned $6 million more in its second weekend than in its first. Without holiday shopping, it could hold up well over the next two weeks if word-of-mouth is strong. Regardless, it is still unlikely than the film’s box office total matches its $127 million budget.