This continues to be a better Holiday season than expected, with the box office for New Year’s weekend up 6% over the same frame in 2014. The Hobbit enjoyed its third straight weekend atop the charts, domestically and internationally, pushing its worldwide over $700 million. Into the Woods and Unbroken continue to compete neck and neck for the next two spots, with the former now performing on pace with the last major movie musical to become a box office hit, Les Miserables. The Woman in Black 2 did about as good as could have been expected, and now seems set for an inevitable sharp decline. Elsewhere, Hunger Games: Mockingjay inched closer to surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy and becoming the highest-grossing domestic release of 2014, and Big Hero 6 leapfrogged its way back into the top 10. Let’s do the numbers:
Top 10 Estimated Domestic Totals (1/2-1/4)
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- Weekend Gross=$21.9 million (-47% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$168.5 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: $52.5m from 65 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $502.1m/$722.8m, keeping in mind that it has been out a week longer overseas than it has here at home. It still has China left to go (1/23). Right now, it’s leading markets are Germany ($68.9m) and the UK ($57.4m).
The Hobbit trilogy is doing the Star Wars prequel thing at the box office, with the nostalgia-heavy-yet-ultimately unsatisfying initial entry (Unexpected Journey) setting the ceiling ($303m), the darker, better sequel (Desolation of Smaug) failing to win everyone back ($258m), and the finale (Five Armies) receiving a “last of the franchise!” boost that is good but not good enough to return to the franchise highs. Five Armies is now $18m behind the pace of Unexpected Journey, keeping in mind that both Journey and Smaug opened a week earlier in December than Five Armies meaning the latter actually hit Christmas and New Years a little sooner in its release cycle. One thing that hasn’t changed from the earlier Hobbit films, though, is that at least 70% of Five Armies‘ worldwide business is coming overseas.
2. Into the Woods
- Weekend Gross=$19 million (-39% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$91.2 million
- Budget=$50 million
Foreign: $1m from Russia, Korea and 8 other markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $5.8m/$97m. Into the Woods is seriously staggering its international roll out. Next weekend, it will hit the UK.
Remember last weekend when Into the Woods received a B on CinemaScore, and it was fair to wonder if audiences would turn on it and spread bad word-of-mouth after being fooled either into seeing a musical by Disney’s misleading marketing or seeing a musical which unexpectedly becomes rather non-family friendly in the second act? Well, that may have all been overblown because Into the Woods just enjoyed a better second weekend hold than even Les Miserables, albeit only by 2 percentage points. As a result, Into the Woods is currently performing right on par with Les Mis, which was sitting at $92m domestic after its first 11 days. Les Mis ultimately made it all the way to $148m, thanks in no small part to extreme repeat business.
- Weekend Gross=$18.3 million (-40% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$87.8 million
- Budget=$65 million
Foreign: $2.3m from 11 territories this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $6.8m/$94.6m. It has releases planned in 52 more territories.
Angelina Jolie continues to exert the best revenge possible against those who have deemed her film “good, but not good enough for awards” which is that she has turned it into a surprising success at the box office where it is currently on track to almost double its production budget at the domestic market alone.
4. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (Opening Weekend)
- Weekend Gross=$15.1 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: $4m from the UK this weekend, which is slightly below the $4.7m the first Woman in Black debuted to there. Altogether, Angel of Death put forth a worldwide debut of $19.1m, with plans calling for a very staggered foreign roll-out.
The first Woman in Black opened to a surprising $20.8m in February 2012, coming as Daniel Radcliffe’s first starring role in the post-Harry Potter portion of his career (Deathly Hallows Part 2 wasn’t even 7 months old at that point). Unlike most horror films, it didn’t fall off the side of a cliff in subsequent weekends, instead riding a 3 month theatrical run to a final domestic total of $54.3m with an additional $73m overseas, nearly half of which came from the UK. What wasn’t clear from that was how much of that performance was due to Radcliffe and how much was due to the actual film. Moreover, after the way the first film ended bringing Radcliffe back for a sequel wasn’t really an option. So, instead they jumped ahead a couple of decades, moving from the early 20th century to WWII, and focused on a new set of characters dealing with the titular ghostly woman in black. The result has been a film critics have hated (26% on RottenTomatoes), and audiences haven’t much liked either (just a C on CinemaScore). But your sequel opens based on the word of mouth for the prior installment, and people really liked the first Woman in Black. As such, Woman in Black 2 just posted a pretty good opening weekend considering how little noticeable crossover there is with its predecessor, although this might also be a release date hit, i.e., horror films have had good openings the first weekend of January for the past 3 years. However, Woman in Black 2 seems certain to fall hard and fast.
- Weekend Gross=$14.4 million (-29% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$89.7 million
- Budget=$127 million
Foreign: $26m from 56 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $91.1m/$180.8m.
This is progressing the way sequels used to which is that each subsequent one makes less than the last. The first Night at the Museum was a giant over Christmas 2006 ($250m), the summer 2009 sequel indicated the potential for the franchise was waning ($177m), and the third time sees it bottoming out, although Secret of the Tomb has been holding up better than expected over the Holidays. Plus, it still has five of the top ten international markets still on the way.
- Weekend Gross=$11.4 million (-31% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$72.6 million
- Budget=$65 million
Foreign: $4.2m from 21 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $16.9m/$89.5m.
This is everything Annie had working against it: 1) Terrible reviews; 2) A universally reviled performance from a miscast Cameron Diaz; 3) A strange development cycle which made it clear this was a movie Will Smith simply produced for his kids to be in, and then they told him they didn’t want to do it, which doesn’t make the people who did end up doing it look that great; 4) Being leaked online in a DVD-quality format by Guardians of the Peace as part of the Sony Pictures hack; 5) Making changes to the iconic songs and lyrics which appeared to seriously anger Annie purists.
This is everything Annie had going for it: 1) General goodwill toward Quvenzhané Wallis after Beasts of the Southern Wild; 2) Being an iconic musical everyone already knows; 3) Being a family-friendly film out at a time when kids are out of school; 4) Being a family friendly film with an obvious design to appeal to African-American audiences, an extreme rarity for the genre.
So far, the good is outweighing the bad, and Annie has held strong over Christmas and New Years after a ho-hum opening weekend in mid-December. This is particularly surprising considering that Into the Woods is around, and that there are just generally more family films than normal out there right now. Yet Annie has already become the 12th highest-grossing musical of all time, although that’s almost entirely meaningless since it drops all the way down to 26th on that list after you adjust for inflation. That all being said, it still has a ways to go before it at least breaks even.
- Weekend Gross=$8.1 million (+2.3% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$30.8 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: $7.4m from the UK and six other markets this weekend for an updated international/worldwide split of $32.9m/$63.7m.
The Imitation Game’s content, Oscar aspirations, and release cycle compares most directly to eventual Best Picture winner The King’s Speech, which similarly enjoyed a solid limited release beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving before expanding wide over Christmas. Well, Imitation Game is now actually $8m ahead the pace of The King’s Speech, which ultimately ended up with $135m domestic.
- Weekend Gross=$7.7 million (-24% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$323.8 million
- Budget=They’re not telling
Foreign: $5.3m from pretty much everywhere possible in the world this weekend except for China and Japan, upping Mockingjay‘s international/worldwide split to $371.6m/$695.4m.
Last year, Katniss needed a solid January to beat Marvel’s big film, Iron Man 3, and technically make Catching Fire the highest-grossing film to have been released in 2013. It could happen again since Mockingjay is now just around $10 million shy of passing Guardians of the Galaxy to become the highest-grossing domestic release of 2014, which is sometimes kind of confusing to say because if Mockingjay does take the record it won’t have actually done so until early 2015.
9. The Gambler
- Weekend Gross=$6.3 million (-31% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$27.5 million
- Budget=$25 million
Foreign: No foreign box office information is available yet even though it was released in Denmark, Spain, Norway, and Sweden this weekend.
Here’s the cool thing about The Gambler: It’s the film Rupert Wyatt chose to make after he could have done any number of big-budget, franchise pictures after improbably turning Rise of the Planet of the Apes into a critical and box office success. Heck, he did something Tim Burton could not: he revived the Planet of the Apes franchise. Yet he walked away, opted out of the inevitable sequel, and ended up making an R-rated adult drama at a major studio (Paramount). Moreover, while it is indeed a remake it’s not a remake of a film which is actually remembered all that well giving this the feel of something closer to an original property. They managed to get this thing made with a known star (Mark Wahlberg), for an attractive price tag of just $25 million plus marketing.
Here’s the sad thing about The Gambler: It’s just not that good (48% on RottenTomatoes), and its box office is reflecting that, although you can try to be positive about it just declining 31% this weekend while carrying such a small budget.
10. Big Hero 6
- Weekend Gross=$4.8 million (-4% from last weekend)
- Total Gross to Date=$211.2 million
- Budget=$165 million
Foreign: $20.2m from 53 markets this weekend for a new international/worldwide split of $167.4m/$378.6m, with over 40% of the foreign marketplace yet to go. Releases in Korea, Germany, the UK, France, and China are just around the corner.
Big Hero 6 leapfrogged two films to re-enter the top 10, but while that’s cool the real story of the moment is what it’s doing in Japan. After a relatively soft debut late last month, Big Hero 6 has surged to be the leading Western release in Japan for three straight weeks, and this weekend’s total was 38% above last weekend’s. It is now up to $34.6m in the territory, making Japan the film’s leading international market. This is what was expected after 1) Japan went crazy for Disney Animation Studio’s Frozen last year; 2) Every single other Asian country has fallen in love with Big Hero 6, making it one of the highest-grossing animated film of all time in most of those territories; 3) So much of the film’s content, such as a setting which is a cross between Tokyo and San Francisco, is tailor-made for Japan, although Japan has recently given lukewarm business to films you’d assume they’d want to see (e.g., The Wolverine, 47 Ronin, Godzilla).
What Dropped Out of the Top 10?:
Wild (#10 to #11) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (#9 to #12). Exodus leaves the top 10 with a domestic total of just $61.2m, not nearly good enough for a film which cost $140m to produce and likely at least half of that if not more to market. It did have a big international weekend, grossing $31.5m from 51 markets, including particularly big openings in Russia and Central America. It has six more markets on the way, but even after this strong weekend it’s only up to a foreign/worldwide split of $141.5m/$202.7m, keeping in mind that at best studios only get a 40% share of international ticket sales .
What About The Interview?:The chest-thumping, flag-waving novelty of seeing The Interview as some way of making a political statment has worn off a little bit. In fact, it pretty much wore off after its first day of release. Despite adding 250 more theaters this weekend, The Interview nearly declined 40% for a weekend gross of $1.1m, good enough to finish at #18 in the box office top 20. You can’t even play the “But it’s per-theater-average was so high!” game to make it seem more impressive. Nope, it’s per-theater-average was only the 15th best of the weekend. After all this, The Interview is currently looking at a 11-day domestic gross of $4.9m. An unanticipated side-effect of The Interview controversy is that Hollywood has just witnessed its absolute best case study experiment of a legitimately major film with major stars and a not-insignificant budget (at least $40m) attempting a simultaneous VOD/theatrical release. The early takeaway has been that while such a film, albeit one with controversy=heightened public awareness, can rise to the top of the iTunes, Google Play, and YouTube sales charts (with $15m in first week sales), the amount of money it makes pales in comparison to what it could potentially pull in from theaters without competition from VOD. That being said, it seems unlikely that Sony is having to split the profit 50/50 with the online retailers the way it has to with theaters.
What’s Up Next?:
The ads have been touting this as the end of Liam Neeson’s terrorizing of kidnapping, vaguely European baddies unless, you know, Taken 3 (1/9) turns into a huge hit. Then we’ll see how truly “final” things are. Plus, Selma finally expands nationwide.