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Weekend Box Office: Hobbit's Five Armies Decimate Night at the Museum, Annie

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By Chris Kavan - 12/22/14 at 12:24 AM CT

The box office was prime for a big win and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies delivered. Yet even with the fantasy dominating the box office, compared to last year, the weekend was still down 4% - and it's now looking like the year is going to finish about 5% behind last year's record-breaking run - mostly due to the summer slump. While The Hobbit dominated, family films had a decidedly mixed response - with Night at the Museum looking like the biggest disappointment. Still, the Christmas holiday is right around the corner, so maybe there will be a rebound.


Peter Jackson's final trip to Middle-Earth was met with open arms by audiences. Battle of Five Armies easily took the weekend with a $56.2 million debut. With early openings taken into account, it has earned a total of $90.6 million at the box office. While the weekend was bit lower compared to past offerings from Jackson, the overall total was much better in retrospect. The best comparison is to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which had a five-day total of $102 million. If the movie follows the same patter as past Hobbit films, it's looking at a total of around $270 million - which would put it ahead of The Desolation of Smaug. Audiences awarded it an "A-" Cinemascore (on par with the previous two films) and was 60% male and also 60% over 25. It also set a December record for IMAX - taking in $13.6 million from the larder format. 3D tickets accounted for 49% of the total as well. Thanks to some clever marketing, sense of finality and a rabid fan base - Five Armies looks to cap off Jackson's Middle-Earth career on a high note.


With Five Armies taking in the vast majority of crowds, the scraps went to the two other wide-release family films. Secret of the Tomb, the third entry in the Night at the Museum franchise, just edged out Annie with a $17.3 million debut. Though it may have opened ahead of the musical, it also operated on a much larger budget ($127 million). Compared to the previous two films, it was also a let down - the original opened to $30.6 million while the sequel (with the benefit of Memorial Day) opened to $54.2 million. The sequel ended up earning 29% less than the original, and with this third entry doing very little to shake things up, it appears the novelty has worn off with audiences. The movie was split pretty much evenly between male and female and was 54% under 25. If it follows the pattern of the previous films, it will wind up with less than $100 million total.


The updated musical came in just under Night at the Museum with a $16.3 million opening. But it looks much better in comparison, as Annie is operating on a much more modest $65 million budget. This was one of the leaked films Sony had to deal with during the much-publicized hacker attack. It ranks 8th all time for movie musicals. Though critics were quite harsh towards the film, audiences were much kinder, awarding it an "A-" Cinemascore. It was made up of mostly families (76%) and was heavily female (70%). Though it faces direct competition next week with Into the Woods opens up, Annie should still draw in plenty and will wind up anywhere between $80 to $100 million.


No doubt there is only room for one big-budget epic - and Exodus had what can only be described as a lukewarm opening. With Five Armies leading the charge, Exodus: Gods and Kings took a major 67% hit - dropping to 4th place with a mere $8.06 million showing. That raises its total to just $39 million - and its drop ranks up with some of the biggest December drops on record. The $140 million film is going to be lucky to earn half that amount domestically and will have to rely on decent foreign totals just to break even.


Meanwhile, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 continued to chug along nicely. It eased 39% in its fifth weekend out and took in $7.75 million for a new total of $289.2 million. The film is going to wind up with around $330 million - and it's going to be down to the wire to see whether it or Guardians of the Galaxy winds up as the highest-grossing film of 2014.

Outside the top five: The biggest jump of the week came from Wild. The Reese Witherspoon-led drama jumped from 10th to 6th place after adding 945 theaters to its total (1061 for now) and gained over 171% in the process. It took in $4.15 million for a new total of $7.2 million.If it follows the same patter as Black Swan, it will be looking at a total between the $40 to $50 million range.

Another decent limited-release gainer was Foxcather. It added 228 theaters for a new total of 307 and jumped 137%. It moved from 18th to 14th place and took in $954,000 for a new total of $4.4 million.

Next week will be another early "weekend" thanks to Christmas falling on a Thursday. With The Interview deep-sixed thanks to stupid studios and theater chains, it now looks like Into the Woods is going to be the best bet to make it big. Also opening is Angelina Jolie's war drama Unbroken along with Mark Wahlberg's The Gambler.


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