Weekend Box Office (December 19 - 21, 2014)

by Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND It's the beginning of the end for the Middle Earth Saga as the final chapter in the six-film epic opened this weekend at number one, destroying everything in its path even as it slipped from previous entries. Two other films debuted to middling numbers while most holdovers had substantial falls.

For one last time, Peter Jackson's tremendous Middle Earth Saga took the number one spot at the box office over the weekend, as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies grossed an estimated $56.2M from 3,875 theaters for a per screen average of $14,508. Its cume since its opening day on Wednesday is $90.6M. Below is a handy chart showing the openings and totals for all of the films in the series. All of the Lord of the Rings films opened on a Wednesday as well, and the first two Hobbit films opened on Fridays.

Title Date Opening Total
LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring 12/19/2001 $ 47,211,490 $ 315,544,750
LOTR: The Two Towers 12/18/2002 $ 62,007,528 $ 342,551,365
LOTR: The Return of the King 12/17/2003 $ 72,629,713 $ 377,845,905
Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 12/14/2012 $ 84,617,303 $ 303,003,568
Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug 12/13/2013 $ 73,645,197 $ 258,366,855
Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies 12/17/2014 $ 56,220,000 TBD

As you can see, the five-day opening for Five Armies was just a few million ahead of the three-day opening for An Unexpected Journey from two years ago. While the reviews for the latest Hobbit film are the best in the series, there has been some audience fatigue domestically, though since this is the series swan song, people who dropped out for part two may come back for this one. All that being said, with an overseas gross of $265M in only 12 days, there's a great chance Five Armies could still hit $1B worldwide when all is said and done, which would be a great way to close out the series. When your lowest grossing film makes 'only' $869M worldwide (Fellowship of the Ring), you know you've done something pretty remarkable.

Another film trilogy with a presumed concluding chapter opened this weekend at number two as Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb opened to an estimated $17.3M from 3,785 theaters for a per screen average of a middle-of-the-road $4,571. The original surprise hit Night at the Museum opened in December of 2006 to $30M and hit a $250M total by the end of its run. Its sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian opened in May of 2009 to $54M and a final total of $177M. It seems fans were not looking forward to another trip to the museum this time as even with eight years of ticket price increases, Secret of the Tomb could barely muster half of the original's opening.

Beleaguered studio Sony released what was to be the first half of a one-two punch during the holidays with Annie starring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne, and Cameron Diaz. The remake of the cult classic from 1982 grossed an estimated $16.3M from 3,116 theaters for a per screen average of a decent $5,231. Sony could obviously use some good news and Annie may be it. While it fell a little behind fellow family film Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb it could very well outgross it in the long run as its Cinemascore was a solid A- vs. Secret of the Tomb's B+, and most sequels tend to do frontloaded business. As we all know by now, the second punch was to come on Christmas Day with the release of The Interview but Sony and the North Koreans simply couldn't see eye to eye and the film got yanked. Normally you'd think this much publicity would be great for the movie, but that wasn't the case this time around. Eventually I think the film will hit theaters and most people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Dropping heavily in its second weekend was the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings which took in an estimated $8M this weekend a drop of... 66.6% from last weekend. You can't make this stuff up folks. Any slight change up or down would make that percentage change as well but still, it's almost as if someone planned it. The cume for Exodus now stands at $39M with a final total in the $55M range likely.

Rounding out the top five was the season's biggest film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 which dropped a reasonable 39% this weekend to an estimated $7.8M, bringing its total up to $289M after five weeks. If you had asked me five weeks ago if it would be the number one movie of the year I'd have said absolutely, but it doesn't look like it'll be able to pass Guardians of the Galaxy and with the final Hobbit film underperforming, it looks like Marvel's merry band of misfits will take the 2014 domestic box office crown.

Reese Witherspoon's Oscar-bait Wild jumped into sixth place this weekend, grossing an estimated $4.1M bringing its cume to $7.2M after three weeks. After spending only one week in the top five, Chris Rock's Top Five fell nearly 50% from last weekend bringing in an estimated $3.6M this weekend for a total cume of $12.4M. Look for a final total in the $20M range.

A couple of family films took the next two spots this weekend with Disney's Big Hero 6 raking in another $3.6M, according to estimates, and bringing its cume to $190M. Not quite Frozen numbers but still a pretty darn good total from the Mouse House. In ninth place were the Penguins of Madagascar who took in an estimated $3.5M this weekend, bringing their cume up to $64M, a disappointing total for Dreamworks Animation.

Rounding out the top 10 was the Bollywood hit PK which took in an estimated $3.5M this weekend from 272 theaters for a per screen average of $12,725, second best in the top 10. From studio UTV this is one of the highest opening weekends in North America for a Bollywood film in history.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $123.9M which was down 8.5% from last year when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug remained at #1 for a second weekend with $31.5M; and up 68% from 2012 when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey also remained in the top spot for a second straight weekend with $36.9M.

Compared to projections, both The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb opened below Gitesh's $67M and $26M respective forecasts, while Annie opened above his $12M prediction.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

Watch the trailer for Terminator Genisys.

Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Gambler, Into the Woods, and Unbroken all open on Christmas Day.


Last Updated: December 21, 2014 at 6:00PM ET

©1997 - 2014 Box Office Guru