Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Box Office Update: Of Good Cheer

The final installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy film adaptation of author J. R. R. Tolkien's book--The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies retained its hold of the top spot--Despite the crowded field of films greeting moviegoers this X-mas frame.

Sony Pictures won a small victory with its decision to release the action comedy "" at the last minute following terrorist threats and the big theater chains bolting. The movie was released in a limited number of theaters online and VOD.

 The Angelina Jolie-directed biopic "Unbroken" and Disney's film adaptation of the classic 1980s Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical Into the Woods held up well too.

 The Clint Eastwood-directed biopic "American Sniper" scored big while Tim Burton's comedic drama biopic "Big Eyes" and the long gestating remake of the James Caan-led 1974 crime drama "The Gambler"did biz in line with expectations

Pamela McClintock of THR:

The North American box office rebounded in a big way over Christmas weekend, easing fears that the threat levied against theaters over The Interview would curb moviegoing.

Leading the charge was Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Angelina Jolie's World War II drama Unbroken and Rob Marshall's musical Into the Woods.

In its second weekend, The Hobbit once again placed No. 1, grossing $54.5 million for the four-day weekend, including $41.4 million for the three days. Domestically, the New Line and MGM tentpole has taken in nearly $170 million.

Unbroken and Into the Woods, both launching Christmas Day, vastly overperformed, grossing $47.3 million and $46.1 million, respectively, to land high up on the list of top holiday openings. To boot, Universal's Unbroken marks one of the best showings of all time for a WWII-themed drama, while Disney's Into the Woods marks the biggest launch ever for an adaptation of a Broadway musical.

Based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling biography, Unbroken stars Jack O'Connell as World War II hero Louis Zamperini. The film, nabbing an A- CinemaScore, follows Zamperini as he's stranded in the ocean after a plane crash and then captured and tortured as a prisoner of war.

Thanks to strong interest among both families and adults, Into the Woods continues Disney's winning streak at the box office. The adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp after Mamma Mia! ($27.8 million).

Into the Woods, receiving a B CinemaScore, earned $31.2 million for the weekend itself, only a hair behind .9 ($31.7 million).

Overall, revenue for the weekend was up by as much as 6 percent over last year. That's welcome news for the film business, which has endured a tough year at the box office, at least in North America. And Hollywood is currently grappling with the unprecedented hacking of Sony,

The cyberattack was reportedly waged by those unhappy with The Interview, the controversial R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as two bumbling journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean president Kim Jong Un.

At the 11th hour, Sony pulled from its Dec. 25 release after the group behind the hack attack threatened theaters. However, after President Barack Obama criticized Sony for caving, the studio announced Tuesday it would release The Interview in select independent theaters and as a pay-per-view offering on YouTube, Google Play, Xbox and Sony’s own site

The Interview opened to an estimated $2.8 million from 331 theaters for the four-day weekend, fueled in part by flag-waving fans. In its new incarnation, the comedy wasn't destined to be a big grosser in theaters, considering its limited footprint and the fact that it was made available online Wednesday. (It was also quickly pirated.) Pay-per-view numbers weren't immediately available.

"I'm so grateful that the movie found its way into theaters, and I'm thrilled that people actually went out and saw it. The fact that people actually left their houses when they had the option of staying home is amazing," Rogen said in a statement.

After Unbroken and Into the Woods, the other two new Christmas offerings playing nationwide were Paramount's The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg as a literature professor who has a secret life as a gambler, and Tim Burton's Big Eyes.

Rupert Wyatt directed The Gambler, which opened to an estimated $14 million-plus, in line with expectations.

Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, faltered in its four-day debut, grossing $4.4 million from. It's true that the drama is playing in far fewer theaters that its competitors (1,307), but it's still a major disappointment for Tim Burton, and marks the worst nationwide opening of his career. The film, from The Weinstein Co., centers on artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose work was claimed by her then-husband, Walter Keane.

Harvey Weinstein's shop still had plenty to celebrate; awards frontrunner The Imitation Game raced into the top 10 as it expanded into total of 747 theaters, grossing $11 million for an early domestic total of $14.6 million.

Director Clint Eastwood's awards contender American Sniper also did huge business, scoring the biggest opening of all time for a limited Christmas release. The movie, based on the real-life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, grossed $850,000 from four theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas (Kyle was from Texas) for a massive screen average of $212,500.

American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle and earning a coveted A+ CinemaScore, broke records at the ArcLight Hollywood and at the Dallas Northpark 15.

Among holdovers in the top 10, Shawn Levy's family friendly Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb did brisk business in its second weekend, earning $27.9 million for the four-day weekend to come in No. 4. The threequel has now earned $55.3 million domestically, and was up 20 percent from last weekend.

Sony's Annie, opening opposite Secret of the Tomb and Hobbit last weekend, placed No. 5 for the four days with a solid $21.2 million for a domestic total of $45.8 million.

The holiday was also kind to holdover The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, which became only the second release of 2014 after Guardians of the Galaxy to jump the $300 million mark in North America, finishing Sunday with $306.7 million in domestic ticket sales. The tentpole has now earned 669.7 million globally.

Next Up: 2015 begins with the release of the horror sequel The Woman In Black: Angel of Death.

Based upon the book by Susan Hill the gothic tale The Woman in Black followed a young solicitor (Daniel Radcliffe) who takes up a short residence at Eel Marsh House, a desolate and secluded coastal mansion cut off at high tide from the nearby market town in rural England. Alone and sorting out the affairs of the elderly widow owner who recently died, the lawyer is spooked by unexplained noises and visions of a mysterious woman in black.

The follow up sees the property seized by the British government during World War II, and the sudden arrival of a group of evacuated children at Eel Marsh House awakens its ghostly inhabitant.

 Jeremy Irvine, Helen McCrory, Adrian Rawlins and Phoebe Fox star in the film

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