Friday Box Office: THE HOBBIT 3 Stays on Top; NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3 and ANNIE Battle for Second

     December 20, 2014

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On a week that focused more on the film audiences won’t be able to see this Christmas rather than the handful that they will, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies remained the clear box office leader.  After posting a strong debut of $24.4 million on Wednesday, The Hobbit 3 added another $9.9 million on Thursday (down almost 60%), for a two-day total of $34.4 million.  That’s a bit under projections but, even so, with an estimated $16.5 million from 3,875 locations yesterday, director Peter Jackson’s final trip to Middle Earth had no trouble staying ahead of two new family-themed holiday releases.  Fox’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb came in second on Friday with a reported $5.6 million from 3,785 locations – just ahead of Sony’s remake of Annie.  Despite being part of the now-infamous studio hack that claimed the box office life of Sony’s The Interview, Annie over-performed yesterday with an estimated $5.3 million from 3,116 locations.

Full story and Friday’s top five after the jump.

the-interview-posterThis has been, arguably, one of the weirder weeks in recent box office history.  On the heels of the much-publicized hack of Sony Pictures, the studio pulled its “controversial” feature The Interview from the release schedule earlier this week.  The comedy will not premiere on Christmas Day, as planned, and will not even make it to VOD or streaming services, according to the studio.  That kind of unilateral cancellation – made at the height of a film’s pre-release marketing push – is unprecedented, as almost every media outlet has now noted.

The only remotely analogous case I can recall came way back in 1988, when Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ was picketed by religious communities so successfully that several major theatre chains refused to screen the film.  Critically, it was not Scorsese’s distributor, Universal, that made the decision to pull the film, though the distinction mattered little in the end.  Last Temptation did go on to play in many independent theatres at the time and also enjoyed a strong second life on VHS.  In terms of The Interview, it’s hard to believe that Sony will stick with writing-off the whole project but, as I mentioned, it’s been a weird box office week.

Getting back to the movies that are playing at a theatre near you, weekend estimates for The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies have been scaled back from $70 to approximately $53 million.  That would give the film a five-day domestic total of $87 million – still better than $79.8 million that The Desolation of Smaug earned in its first five days (Friday – Tuesday) last December.

Both Night at the Museum 3 and Annie are expected to bring in $20 million through Sunday.  That would be a win for the musical remake, which was expected to earn as little as $16 million, but a little underwhelming for Museum, which should be closer to $25 million even after factoring in the six year gap since Battle of the Smithsonian was in theatres.

Check back for complete box office details tomorrow.

 Title Friday Total
1.  The Hobbit 3 $16,575,000 $50.98
2.  Night at the Museum 3 $5,625,000 $5.6
3.  Annie $5,300,000 $5.3
4.  Mockingjay – Part 1 $2,280,000 $283.7
5.  Exodus: Gods & Kings $2,275,000 $33.1
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