Saturday: 7:30AM: Warner Bros. is reporting this morning that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies made $16.575M Friday for a cume of $51M with $2.18M coming from IMAX alone (13% of Friday). IMAX looks to have a 16% of FSS and 3D shows are pulling in about 50% of the gross, which is higher than Smaug,but about the same as An Unexpected Journey. Per some early morning estimates, the weekend showdown for No. 2 between Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie looks like it’s wider. Fox is reporting Museum in second with $5.625M yesterday, a position the Ben Stiller comedy plans to hold throughout the weekend with $18.3M. Sony’s Annie posted $5.3M and is now eyeing a $16-$17M weekend.
Five Armies is playing strong everywhere: “We’re over-indexing in Canada, playing strong in the Pacific and even in small and medium towns too,” said Warner Bros. distribution EVP and general sales manager. Why did WB bow the Hobbit threequel on a Wednesday instead of a Friday? Previous Hobbits, like most mega-tentpoles over a FSS, are front-loaded, with their highest day being Friday and than sliding downward on Saturday and Sunday. The decision to bow Five Armies on a Wednesday boils down to “when Christmas falls. The Christmas holiday falling on a Thursday is better this year,” explains Goldstein. In 2013, Christmas fell on a Wednesday, while in 2012, the holiday fell on a Tuesday. This year, with Christmas and New Year’s on Thursday, it’s back-to-back four-day weekends.
Sony knew it had something special with Annie, that’s why they moved it from its Christmas day bow to this Friday. Said Rory Bruer, Sony’s worldwide distribution and marketing chief, “By opening on the 19th,it gave us a chance to build word of mouth with kids being out of school. It was bold in that sense: We knew there were two pictures that had a bit of cache to their franchises, but we always felt that Annie was different and special with everyone.”
The Annie reboot, which cost a reported $65M, was further bolstered by two Golden Globe noms for actress Quvenzhane Wallis (actress, musical or comedy) and for Sia’s song “Ordinary” in the film. Also moving the marketing meter for Annie is its soundtrack which features singer/songwriter Sia and producer Greg Kurstin who gave the musical’s classic songs “Tomorrow” and “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” a modern makeover. Annie boasts 18M YouTube views, on par with Les Miserables two years ago. The film’s social media universe per RelishMIX is 60.5M across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter vs. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb‘s 52.2M. RelishMIX shows that Annie videos are reposting strongly.
Previous Saturday, 2:46AM: Exhibitors and distributors breathed a sigh of relief from the B.O. holiday doldrums over the last two weekends, as Warner Bros./New Line-MGM’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rallied the masses at the multiplex in its third day of release, ringing up $16.1M per industry estimates, a 62% spike from Thursday, and a domestic cume in its third day of $50.5M.
Friday also featured a duke-0ut between the frame’s frosh pair of family pics — Sony’s Annie and Fox’s threequel Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which respectively drew industry estimates of $6M and $5.9M. Fandango foresaw both titles neck-in-neck based on pre-sales and it could go down to the wire in terms of which takes second. While those single digits may not look stupendous on paper, matinees and holiday multiples will push these films to the max this season. The weekend prior to Christmas always has a golden lining thanks to school holiday vacations, and the frame has churned out some fantastic bows in the past, such as 2009’s Avatar ($77M) and even 2010’s Tron: Legacy ($44M). Overall, Friday’s top 10 titles totaled $37.5M, up 61% from a week ago.
After all The Interview hacking headaches this week, Sony is over the moon with its A- Cinemascore for Annie, which bodes well for the pic’s life. Critics have been throwing gum at the warbling orphan’s hair with a 28% Rotten Tomatoes score, but that’s just further proof that blockbuster Broadway musical adaptations don’t need the tweed set to sing high notes at the B.O. (2008’s Mamma Mia! was slammed by critics with 54% rotten, but got an A- Cinemascore and posted a domestic B.O. of $144.1M). The estimated Friday for Museum: Secret of the Tomb ranks below the $12.1M first Friday of its opening chapter, which bowed during the same December frame in 2006, but look at what Fox did with December 2011 kiddie threequel Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Both Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Chipwrecked earned B+ Cinemascores, and posted similar Fridays (Chipwrecked earned a bit more with $6.7M), however the latter legged out at $133.1M stateside.
By Sunday, Peter Jackson’s Five Armies is expected to amass $86.4M in U.S./Canada, a five-day bow that beats the director’s first Lord of the Rings, which collected $75.1M from Wed.-Sun in December 2001. Word of mouth is gonna be fine for Five Armies, the question is just high can it can go: Similar to last year’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (final domestic $258.4M) and 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring (domestic $315.5M), Five Armies earned an A- Cinemascore. 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($303M), LOTR: Two Towers ($342.6M) earned As, while LOTR: Return of the King ($377.8M) has the highest grade with A+.
Beamed one exhibitor relations exec, “This is the first family film we’ve had in the marketplace for sometime, and by family film I don’t mean a G or PG-rated movie, I mean a movie where every single person in the family — mom, dad, the kids and grandparents — go. Exodus just wasn’t that.” Based on pre-opening screenings, the Ridley Scott film, with its glorious 3D battles scenes and leading thesps Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, looked certain to dynamite the marketplace out of its slumber — until a sour, mostly faith-based, press weighed in. The Moses film dropped an estimated 74% in its second Friday, with $2.3M. Exodus’ eight-day estimated domestic B.O. of $33.1M is currently pacing 17% ahead of Scott’s 2005 Christian Crusades film Kingdom of Heaven (which bowed to $19.6M).
Social media has been key in harnessing The Hobbit fanbase with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter moving the needle significantly for Five Armies. According to media analyst RelishMIX, The Hobbit‘s YouTube has amassed an impressive 258M views over 24 months. Five Armies has twice the YouTube count with 140M views over Smaug‘s 71M and Unexpected Journey‘s 47M. Five Armies’ Facebook engagement stands at 34M, double that of Smaug‘s 17M. Twitter reach has nearly doubled in the last 12 months from 2.6M to 4.7M with hashtag activity spiking to 72k from the London Premiere on November 30.
Elsewhere at Friday’s B.O., most award contenders saw dips, largely due to the fact that they dropped screens. Hot titles like Birdman want to capitalize on another wide break around Golden Globe awards and Oscar noms. Wild saw a 141% boom with an estimated $1.15M thanks to a 945-theater surge in its overall engagement count of 1,061. Foxcatcher added 229 locales for a count of 308 and a Friday of $246K. The Bennett Miller movie is looking at a $1M weekend, up 149%. Mike Leigh’s awards contender Mr. Turner, which has earned high praise for actor Timothy Spall’s portrayal of 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner, bowed in NY and LA with $27K in five theaters. Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is pacing toward $300M stateside, and should close in on $290M by Sunday. After losing a number of large format screens to The Hobbit, Paramount’s Interstellar is expected to drop from sixth last weekend down to 10th by Sunday.
Below is the top 10 for the weekend of Dec. 19-21 per Friday night industry estimates:
1). The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (WB), 3,875 theaters /$16.1M Fri./ 3-day cume: $52M / Total cume: $86.4M/Wk 1 (Bowed Wednesday)
2). Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (FOX), 3,785 theaters /$5.9M Fri./ 3-day cume: $19.6M /Wk 1
3). Annie (Sony), 3,116 theaters /$6M Fri./ 3-day cume: $19.1M /Wk 1
4). Exodus: Gods and Kings (FOX), 3,053 theaters (0)/$2.3M Fri. (-74%)/ 3-day cume: $8M(-67%) / Total cume: $38.6M/Wk 2
5). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (LGF), 3,174 theaters (-557) /$2.2M Fri. (-41%)/ 3-day cume: $7.9M (-38%) / Total cume: $289.4M/Wk 5
6). Wild (FSL), 1061 theaters (+945) / $1.15M Fri. (+141%) / 3-day cume: $4M (+167%) / Total cume: $7M /Wk 3
7). The Penguins Of Madagascar (FOX), 2,717 theaters (-595)/ $944K Fri. (-37%)/ 3-day cume: $3.8M (-47%) / Total cume: $M / Wk 4
8). Big Hero 6 (DIS), 2,407 theaters (-369) / $929K Fri. (-29%) / 3-day cume: $3.5M (-41%)/ Total cume: $190.5M /Wk 7
9). Top Five (PAR), 1,307 theaters (+328) /$931K Fri. (-63%)/ 3-day cume: $2.9M (-57%)/ Total cume: $11.9M /Wk 2
10). Interstellar (PAR), 1,550 theaters (-701) / $720K Fri. (-52%) / 3-day cume: $2.7M (-51%) / Total cume: $171.6M / Wk 7
11) P.K (UTV), 272 theaters/ $800K Fri./ 3-day cume: $2.3M /Wk 1
The Theory Of Everything (FOC), 1,011 theaters (-209) / $432K Fri. (-42%)/ 3-day cume: $1.5M (-35%) / Total cume: $19.8M / Wk 7
Foxcatcher (SPC), 308 theaters (+229) / $283K Fri./ 3-day cume: $1M (+149%) / Total cume: $4.5M/ Wk 6
Birdman (FSL), 452 theaters (-89) / $246K Fri. (-27%) /3-day cume: $932K (-29%)/ Total cume: $22.3M /Wk 10
The Imitation Game (TWC), 34 theaters (+9) / $198K Fri. (-20%)/ 3-day cume: $749K (-12%)/ Total cume: $3M/ Wk 4
Nightcrawler (OPRD), 153 theaters (-645) / $35K Fri. (-80%)/ 3-day cume: $126K (-79%) /Total cume: $31.5M/ Wk 8
Inherent Vice (WB), 5 theaters / $33K Fri. (-75%)/ 3-day cume: $118K (-64%)/ Total cume: $570K / Wk 2
Mr. Turner (SPC), 5 theaters/$27K Fri./ $38K Sat. (25%) / $27K Sun.( -20%)/Scrn Avg: $17,550/3-day cume: $88K/Wk. 1