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Weekend Report: 'Hobbit,' 'Unbroken,' 'Into the Woods' Score on Final Weekend of 2014

by Ray Subers
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
 

 
December 28, 2014

Unbroken and Into the Woods did big business over Christmas weekend, though first place once again belonged to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Overall, the box office was quite strong on the last weekend of 2014: the Top 12 earned an estimated $189.4 million, which makes this the highest-grossing weekend of the year.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
eased 24 percent to an estimated $41.4 million. In comparison, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King fell 30 percent to $50.6 million on the exact same weekend back in 2003. This is also the biggest second weekend yet for the Hobbit trilogy, though each of those weekends were before Christmas, not after.

The final installment in the Hobbit trilogy remains on track to at least match The Desolation of Smaug's $258 million, though $300 million now seems to be out of reach.

Opening at 3,131 theaters, Angelina Jolie's Unbroken took second place with an estimated $31.7 million. Including Christmas Day, the movie has so far earned $47.3 million.

Those numbers are comparable to Django Unchained, which earned $30.1 million on its first weekend in late December 2012. Among World War II movies, the three-day debut ranks fourth all-time, and is noticeably higher than fellow 2014 entries Fury (2014) ($23.7 million) and The Monuments Men ($22 million). This is even more impressive when taking in to account the fact that Unbroken doesn't really have any recognizable on-screen talent.

Unbroken
's strong debut can be attributed to a few factors. The source material—Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling novel of the same name—has been widely read in the past few years. As has been reinforced time and time again, popular books often translate in to popular movies (see Gone Girl, The Fault in our Stars, etc.). Also, while the movie didn't have any on-camera stars, it did have a huge presence in the director's chair. Angelina Jolie is one of the biggest stars in movies today, and she has worked tirelessly over the past few months to get the message out about this movie.

It also helps that the material itself was quite appealing, particularly for holiday moviegoers. Universal did a great job positioning this as an inspirational true story about American war hero Louis Zamperini, who recently passed away at the age of 97. The marketing campaign emphasized the redemptive elements of the story, which likely connected with Christian moviegoers.

This is the eighth $25-million-plus debut for Universal Pictures this year (second only to 20th Century Fox). More impressively, this is their fifth $30-million-plus debut for an "original" movie following Lone Survivor, Ride Along, Neighbors and Lucy.

Unbroken
's audience was 52 percent female and 71 percent over the age of 25. They awarded the movie an "A-" CinemaScore, which suggests word-of-mouth will be solid. The movie is poised to earn at least $130 million total, and could go quite a bit higher if it picks up a handful of Oscar nominations.

Continued with a look at 'Into the Woods,' 'The Gambler,' 'Big Eyes,' 'American Sniper,' 'Selma' and more >>

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo, and follow author Ray Subers at @raysubers.

Last Weekend
'Hobbit' Emerges Victorious in Final Box Office 'Battle'

This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2013 - 'Hobbit,' 'Frozen' Top 'Wolf,' 'Mitty' on Final Weekend of 2013
• 2012 - 'Hobbit' Holds Off 'Django' on Final Weekend of 2012
• 2011 - No Stopping 'M:I-4' Over New Year's
• 2010 - 'Fockers' Frowned Upon, 'Grit' Glowers Over New Year's
• 2009 - Christmas Booms with 'Avatar,' 'Sherlock,' 'Alvin'
• 2008 - 'Marley' Retrieves Box Office Luster Over Christmas
• 2007 - 'Museum' Exhibits Holiday Clout
• 2005 - 'Chronicles' Conk Out 'King' on New Year's Weekend


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