2ND UPDATE, 10:08 AM: Universal-Legendary’s Unbroken is still on track to take No. 1 over the Christmas frame with nearly $15.6M in Thursday grosses, according to the latest studio estimates this morning. But the biggest shift comes from Disney’s Into The Woods. After it had been tops in noon estimates yesterday it fell behind Angelina Jolie’s pic later in the evening, but it ended up rallying the most among the newcomers and is now making it a fight for the top spot. It is currently No. 2 with $15M-plus, higher than yesterday’s $13.6M estimate.

If it all holds, Unbroken would be the third-highest Christmas day opener ever following 2012’s Les Miserables ($18.11M), Hollywood’s last Broadway musical before Into The Woods to bow on Xmas. Into The Woods is running fourth ahead of Django Unchained, which TWC opened Christmas Day 2012 with a $15.01M gross. The top December 25 opener remains Sherlock Holmes at $24.6M in 2009.

Sony Pictures’ The Interview held its ground with a $1.04M estimate from 311 theaters, placing it at No. 13 on the charts.

Classy
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The entire audience applauded when it was over! I give her credit for making it when it...
Films
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They go to films on Chanukah.
Shirleyjangel"@aol.com
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Go Angie, great movie, great man!! Win all awards!!

hobbit battle of the five armiesRounding out the top three, Warner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies stays put with $13.14M — higher than the earlier $12.7M estimate yesterday. Its was a very good Christmas indeed, with 25 films already expected to gross well over 2012’s $74.9M. It still may still land short of last Christmas’ $77.3M, though.

Elsewhere among newcomers, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper from Warner Bros. made $240K at four theaters for a $60K-plus per screen at the Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles, Northpark in Dallas, the Union Square and Lincoln Square in New York City. Warners is calling the kickoff the largest limited release (under 10 screens) on Christmas in history.

Paramount’s The Gambler is estimated to have brought in $5M in sixth place. It’s a bit gritty for holiday crowds, hence the low grade. The Weinstein Co.’s The Imitation Game clocked seventh place after its expansion from 34 to 747 theaters taking in an estimated $3.077M. TWC’s Big Eyes looks to be opening in 11th place with approximately $1.415M off 1,307 runs.

Paramount’s MLK. biopic Selma is looking to post a $322K gross off 19 venues for a per theater of $16,947.

Here are the latest numbers with notables:

1). Unbroken (UNI), 3,131 theaters /$15.592M Thurs.*/ Total cume: $15.592M /Wk 1
*includes Christmas Eve previews of $850K

2). Into The Woods (DIS), 2,440 theaters /$15.084M Thurs.*/ Total cume:$15.084M /Wk 1
*includes Christmas Eve previews of $1.1M

3). The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (WB), 3,875 theaters /$13.14M Thurs./ Total cume: $127.102M/Wk 1

4). Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (FOX), 3,914 theaters (+129) /$7.35MM Thurs./ Total cume: $34.78M /Wk 1

5). The Gambler (Par), 2,478 theaters /$5M Thurs./ Total cume: $5M /Wk 1

6). Annie (Sony), 3,197 theaters (+81) /$4.6M Thurs./ Total cume: $29.2M /Wk 1

7.) The Imitation Game (TWC), 747 theaters (+713) / $3.077M Thurs. / Total cume: $6.5M/ Wk 4

8). Exodus: Gods And Kings (FOX), 3,002 theaters (-501)/$3.035M Thurs./ Total cume: $45.78M/Wk 2

9). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (LGF),2,793 theaters (-381) /$2.685M Thurs./Total cume: $296.65M/Wk 5

10). Wild (FSL), 1,285 theaters (+224) / $1.66M Thurs./ Total cume: $10.949M /Wk 3

11). Big Eyes (TWC), 1,307 theaters /$1.415M Thurs./ Total cume: $1.415M /Wk 1

12.) Top Five (PAR), 1,426 theaters (+119) /$1.46M Thurs./ Total cume: $15.47M /Wk 2

13.) The Interview (Sony), 331 theaters / $1.04M Thurs. /$3,142 screen average/Total cume: $1.04M/ Wk 1

Notables:

Selma (Par), 19 theaters / $322K Thurs. /$16,947 screen average// Total cume: $322K / Wk 1

American Sniper (WB), 4 theaters / $240K Thurs./$60k screen average/ Total cume: $240k/ Wk 1

UPDATE, 12:07 AM: Word of mouth is on fire: Universal-Legendary’s Unbroken smashed through the onslaught of studio wide releases and holdovers on Christmas Day and is looking to take No. 1 with $15.6M according to industry estimates, racing past Disney’s musical Into The Woods, which according to noon estimates was expected to finish first. As such, it comes as no surprise to learn that Unbroken earned an A- Cinemascore. Into The Woods, with a B, should land second with an estimated $13.6M, while  Warner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies will settle for third with $12.7M — a 112% surge over its Christmas Eve low.  A very good Christmas indeed with 25 films already expected to gross $75.9M, which is ahead of 2012’s $74.9M, but is just 2% off last Christmas’ $77.3M.

the interview 5Sony’s hot potato political comedy The Interview is eyeing about $1M from its 331 locations for a $3,000+ per theater. It’s a decent opening day, certainly not as jawdropping as the headlines the film has spurred from Sony hacking to 9/11 threats. Comps are spotty as limited bows in latter December are relegated to award-contending titles. The last political comedy to play the year-end holiday frame was 1997’s Wag The Dog (the film brilliantly pre-dated the 1998 Clinton sex scandal by a matter of weeks), which in its January 2-4 sophomore weekend made $1.12M off 69 locations. It will be interesting to see how high Sony might expand The Interview‘s release. Such political football pics as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 and comedies like Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat have grossed $24M-26M bows off engagements in the low 800s.

unbroken 4Unbroken‘s anticipated $30M-plus four-day bow couldn’t come at a better time for the Angelina Jolie-directed World War II film as it aims to pique Oscars’ voters before nom ballots are due on Jan 8.  The film was overlooked by the Golden Globes and SAG Awards (except for a stunt ensemble nom), however, the Critics’ Choice Awards lauded Unbroken with noms for best pic, director, adapted screenplay and cinematography. Weeks prior to its opening, faith-based film marketers told Deadline that Unbroken was clicking with Christian audiences in a way that Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings was not, giving high praise for Jolie’s finesse in portraying Louis Zamperini’s spiritual stamina.     

If Unbroken and Into the Woods’  opening estimates hold until tomorrow AM, they’ll respectively rank as the third- and sixth-highest Christmas bows of all-time. The top four currently are Sherlock Holmes ($24.6M), 2o12’s Les Miserables ($18.1M), Django Unchained ($15M) and Marley And Me ($14.4m).

Paramount’s The Gambler earned a C+ Cinemascore and is expected to bring in $4.6M. It’s a bit gritty for holiday crowds, hence the low grade. Paramount bowed the hard R-rated The Wolf Of Wall Street last Christmas and wound up with a C Cinemascore and a $116.9M final domestic cume (though many will attribute that to the film’s awards traction, of which The Gambler has yet to notch).

the-imitation-gameWeinstein Co.’s The Imitation Game clocked into seventh place after its expansion from 34 to 747 theaters. TWC executed a similar rollout for The Imitation Game as The King’s Speech, and the Alan Turing biopic’s Christmas B.O. is 39% higher than that of the King George VI biopic. TWC’s Big Eyes looks to be opening in 11th place with approximately $1.33M off 1,307 runs. The film is just beginning its awards season run at the B.O., powered by Golden Globe music/comedy noms for Amy Adams (best actress) and Christoph Waltz (best actor) as well as a third for Lana Del Rey’s title song “Big Eyes”.

Paramount’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. biopic Selma is looking to post $300K off 19 venues for a per theater of $15,789 while Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper from Warner Bros. made $200K at four theaters for a $50K per screen at the Arclight Hollywood in Los Angeles, Northpark in Dallas, the Union Square and Lincoln Square in New York City.

Below is the top films on Christmas Day per industry estimates. Percent changes vs. Christmas Eve:

1). Unbroken (UNI), 3,131 theaters /$15.6M Thurs.*/ Total cume: $15.6M /Wk 1
*includes Christmas Eve previews of $850K

2). Into the Woods (DIS), 2,440 theaters /$13.6M Thurs./ Total cume:$13.6M /Wk 1
includes Christmas Eve previews of $1.1M

3). The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (WB), 3,875 theaters /$12.7M Thurs.(+112%)/ Total cume: $126.66M/Wk 2

4). Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (FOX), 3,914 theaters (+129) /$6.8M Thurs.(+145%)/ Total cume: $34.2M /Wk 1

5). The Gambler (Par), 2,478 theaters /$4.6M Thurs.*/ Total cume: $4.6M /Wk 1

6). Annie (Sony), 3,197 theaters (+81) /$4.4M Thurs. (+117%)/ Total cume: $29M /Wk 1

7.) The Imitation Game (TWC), 747 theaters (+713) / $2.95M Thurs.(+1791%) / Total cume: $6.4M/ Wk 4

8). Exodus: Gods and Kings (FOX), 3,002 theaters (-501)/$2.77M Thurs.(+190%)/ Total cume: $45.5M/Wk 2

9). The Hunger GamesMockingjay Part 1 (LGF),2,793 theaters (-381) /$2.48M Thurs. (+154%) /Total cume: $296.4M/Wk 5

10). Wild (FSL), 1,285 theaters (+224) / $1.56M Thurs. (+166%) / Total cume: $10.8M /Wk 3

11). Big Eyes (TWC), 1,307 theaters /$1.33M Thurs./ Total cume: $1.33M /Wk 1

12.)  Top Five (PAR), 1,426 theaters (+119) /$1.15M Thurs.(+174%)/ Total cume: $15.15M /Wk 2

13.) The Interview (Sony), 331 theaters  / $1.112M Thurs.  /$3,360 screen average/Total cume: $1.112M/ Wk 1

Notables:

Selma (Par), 19 theaters  / $300K Thurs.  /$15,789 screen average// Total cume: $300K / Wk 1

American Sniper (WB), 4 theaters / $200K Thurs./$50k screen average/ Total cume: $200k/ Wk 1

PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: Christmas Eve is one of the more notorious off days at the domestic box office, with folks rushing from work to religious services, and most theaters shutting down after the 7 PM show.  However, Disney’s preview of the Broadway musical pic adaptation Into The Woods drew a decent $1.1M  yesterday while Universal’s Louis Zamperini biopic Unbroken generated $850K at 1,979 playdates at evening previews — an upbeat sign for their B.O. prospects today.  As dinners wind down in the late afternoon, business picks up exorbitantly at night.  Last year, the Christmas day box office racked up $77.3M according to Rentrak Theatrical with 2009 — the season of Avatar — repping a 10-year high of $86.6M.

Based on noon estimates, box office insiders are projecting that Into The Woods could see a $17.3M Christmas day, which would make it the third-highest bow for the holiday following 2009’s Sherlock Holmes ($24.6M) and 2o12’s Broadway-to-screen title Les Miserables ($18.1M), however, more conservative projections see the Robert Marshall-helmed film minting $10M. Unbroken could generate $9M by the time studio estimates are announced for the holiday tomorrow morning while other new wide releases of the day, Paramount’s The Gambler and Weinstein Co.’s Big Eyes are looking at respective Christmas day holiday sales of $4M and $1.5M.

Meanwhile, Sony’s The Interview at 331 independent theaters sold out its Christmas showtimes at The Alamo Drafthouse circuit and had a decent start at Los Angeles’ Silent Movie Theatre, where stars Seth Rogen and James Franco introduced the the 12:35 AM show.

Given the slowdown on Christmas Eve, Warner Bros.’ The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies saw its lowest daily gross on its eighth day of $6M, off close to 40% from Tuesday. Nonetheless, it still ranked first for the day. On Christmas day last year, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug saw a 77% hike over its Christmas Eve gross with $9.3M while 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey generated a 63% spike on Christmas with $11.2M. Fox’s The Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb took second on Christmas Eve with $2.78M followed by Sony’s Annie with $2.025M, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 with $975K and Fox’s Exodus: Gods And Kings in fifth with $955K.