Box Office: UNBROKEN Surprise Winner on Christmas; THE INTERVIEW Claims $1 Million from Limited Run

     December 26, 2014

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On Christmas Day, the year’s last big box office bout, one film emerged the undisputed champion.  It was not the film that most people expected to come out on top, but hey!  2014 just wouldn’t feel complete if the box office didn’t shake industry tracking one last time.  Unbroken – a film that received more publicity in the last week for leaked emails and awards season snubbings than for its content, came out on top with an estimated $15.6 million from 3,131 locations.  Into the Woods (the presumed box office victor as late as Christmas Eve) took in just over $15 million from 2,440 venues, including $1.1 million from previews.  That makes the Disney musical Thursday’s per-screen victor, but that kind of subtlety doesn’t play well in marketing campaigns, does it?

Full story, including The Interview estimates and the Christmas Day top ten, after the jump.

into-the-woods-posterDespite mixed reviews (51% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a singular lack of Golden Globe nominations, Universal’s Unbroken clearly connected with Christmas Day audiences.  The film posted the third-highest Christmas debut ever, behind 2009’s Sherlock Holmes ($24.9 million) and 2012’s Les Miserables ($18.1 million).  The World War II-era biopic of Louis Zamperini received an A- CinemaScore and is now expected to take in over $40 million in its first four days – roughly double what industry analysts predicted.

Into the Woods should also earn close to $40 million through Sunday despite its inferior ‘B’ CinemaScore.  That’s slightly ahead of projections, though not even close to the $30 million that Les Miserables claimed in two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) in 2012.  At any rate, it’s still unclear whether Unbroken or Into The Woods will come out on top this weekend, though the former’s superior theatre count seems to auger in the biopic’s favor.

There’s also The Hobbit 3 to consider.  At this time last year, The Desolation of Smaug held off four new Christmas Day releases (not to mention holdovers like Frozen and Anchorman 2) to take first place for a third straight weekend.  So far, The Battle of Five Armies  has earned $396.1 million worldwide and, considering Smaug saw a drop of less than 8% on the post-Christmas frame in 2013, Bilbo Baggins’ final battle has a chance to claim a second frame in first… One Last Time.

Among the grab bag of titles that opened this Christmas, there is no doubt that Sony’s The Interview captured the most attention – attention that was, by design, wildly out of proportion with the film’s theatre count and its opening day gross.  Of course, the fact that The Interview made it to an opening day gross at all is remarkable at this point.  After a weird week in which Sony first pulled the controversial comedy from nationwide release and then announced that it would open (on time) in just over 300 independent theatres, any box office news related to the comedy should be greeted with holiday cheer.

The Interview ended up grossing an estimated $1,040 million, or $3,142 per location.  That topped the per-screen earnings of Paramount’s The Gambler, Christmas Day’s other major R-rated release.  The crime drama starring Mark Wahlberg earned an estimated $5 million from 2,478 locations, or just over $2,000 per screen.  Wrapping up the box office’s Christmas Day offerings, director Tim Burton’s Big Eyes earned an estimated $1,415 million from its 1,307 locations, or $1,083 per screen.

Here’s a look at 2014’s Christmas Day top ten.  Check back Sunday for the weekend chart.

 Title Christmas Total
1.  Unbroken $15,592,000 $15.6
2.  Into the Woods $15,084,000 $15
3.  The Hobbit 3 $13,140,000 $127.1
4.  Night at the Museum 3 $7,350,000 $34.7
5.  The Gambler $5,000,000 $5
6.  Annie $4,600,000 $29.2
7.  The Imitation Game $3,077,000 $6.7
8.  Exodus: Gods & Kings $3,035,000 $45.7
9.  Mockingjay – Part 1 $2,650,000 $296.6
10.  Wild $1,660,000 $10.9

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