• Industry

World Box Office Dec 15-21

With its domestic launch netting $56.2 million this weekend The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is finding itself to be a worthy conclusion to Kiwi director Peter Jackson’s 14-year odyssey in Middle-Earth. Wednesday and Thursday previews brought the five day total to $90 million, while a stunning second week overseas netted $105 million from 59 markets to make the film’s global cumulative from its first two sessions a remarkable $355.6 million.
While many critics have decried Jackson’s liberal forays away from the source material, U.S. audiences gave his final adventure in Middle-Earth a solid A- cinema score. IMAX screens, which netted $20.1 million worldwide, were a goldmine for this visually propelled thriller.
Highlights from its international run came from South Korea where Five Armies finished first with $10.4 million, as well as from Spain, where it notched the country’s biggest debut of 2014 with a $6.4 million weekend. In their second frame in Germany, Bilbo, Thorin, Legolas and company spirited $12.4 million away from the coffers of Europe’s reigning economic power. The UK produced $8 million, France drummed up $7.5 million, and Italy was good for another $5.6 million. In the ever more important market of Malaysia The Hobbit made an impressive $3 million, while the reliably productive territory of Brazil generated $3.3 million. Jackson’s fantasy adventure was the top film in each of these countries.
With the number one spot essentially sealed from the get-go, the most interesting matchup in this weekend’s domestic box office was the scrap for second place between Annie and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Fox’s third production in the Ben Stiller led series, which features the two late comedic legends Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney, won the contest with a $17.3 million 3-day opening.
Annie, which Sony execs were desperately hoping would prove good and provide a bit of relief for the Japanese studio’s descent into the center of a diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and North Korea, finished just behind Secret of the Tomb with $16.3 million. This reimagining of the classic American comic strip Little Orphan Annie, which was first adapted to film in 1932, stars Quvenzhané Wallace, Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz, and was produced by a team including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay-Z. It garnered an A- cinema score from preview engagements.
The world’s second biggest film this session was Chinese gangster flic Gone with the Bullets. Director Jiang Wen’s crime saga, the follow-up to 2010’s hit Let the Bullets Fly, which by mid-November had already earned $20 million from presale tickets, centers on the treacherous drama surrounding a beauty pageant in 1920s Shanghai. It was released on December 18 and has thus far earned $48.5 million in its immensely lucrative home market.
With awards season a few short weeks away studios are scurrying to introduce their final little gems of the year, making the specialty box office particularly salient in this period. Sony Classics launched Mr. Turner, a thoughtful account of the tumultuous final years of celebrated English painter J. M. W. Turner by Palme d’Or and Golden Lion winning art-house director Mike Leigh. It earned $108,638 from five theatres for a $27,728 per-theatre average.
Inherent Vice remained in five theatres in the second frame of its soft release, making $147,000 for a $29,400 average. Paul Thomas Anderson’s pseudo-noir, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio Del Toro, among others, is his first film since 2012’s The Master.
The Imitation Game, director Morgen Tyldum’s code-cracking WW2 thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch as mathematician Allen Turing, had another solid frame in its nine American theatres. It earned a total of $894,700 for a $26,315 average, the weekend’s third best.
Next frame will see the launch of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, Disney’s Brothers Grimm fairytale mash-up Into the Woods, starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp, as well high-stakes crime drama The Gambler with, Jessica Lange, John Goodman, and starring Mark Wahlberg.
Lorenzo Soria