The Hollywood establishment was smiling this weekend as Americans headed to the multiplexes in droves over the long Christmas holiday. Along with the big blockbusters, the controversial “The Interview” — released both in a small number of independent theaters and as pay-for-view online — racked up some pretty impressive numbers. The film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as American journalists commissioned to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, took in an estimated $2.8 million at sold-out showings in 331 theaters — rating nearly $8,500 per screen. On top of that, an estimated $15 million was raked in via the various pay-for-view online opportunities. However, it also should be noted that “The Interview” already has been pirated as well.
As for the major releases, Peter Jackson’s final “Hobbit” film, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” led the pack with $54.1 million for the four-day weekend ($41.4 million for the three days alone, post Christmas). So, for it’s second weekend of release, the third “Hobbit” movie has hit $170 million.
Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” World War II saga and Rob Marshall’s star-studded “Into the Woods,” based on Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, duked it out for second and third, with “Unbroken” taking in an estimated $47.3 million and “Into the Woods” selling $46. million in tickets. The Sondheim-themed film marks the largest opening for a Broadway musical movie in history.
The No. 4 spot at the long weekend box office went to “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” racking up $27.9 million in its second weekend of release. The “Annie” remake came in No. 5 with $21.2 million added to it’s two weekend total of a very respectable $45.8 million.
Despite worries of potential threats tied to “The Interview” finally being released — albeit in so few theaters — people clearly were not put off. The overall weekend was up a solid 6 percent over 2013’s Christmas openings. This was a nice boost to the film business which has struggled all year long in North America.
Behind the new Christmas openings of “Unbroken” and “Into the Woods,” the two other new movies were “The Gambler,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes.” While “The Gambler” opened at $14 million — meeting expectations by it’s studio, Paramount Pictures — “Big Eyes,” starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, was a big disappointment. It’s four-day gross box office only totaled an estimated $4.4 million — the worst-ever opening of a Tim Burton film.