Meanwhile, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death opened in fourth place with $15.03 million, which is noticeably lower than its predecessor's debut.
Overall, this was a good start to 2015: the top 12 earned $134.2 million, which is up five percent from the same frame last year.
The final installment in the Hobbit trilogy added $21.7 million, which is off 47 percent from last weekend. To date, it's earned $220.6 million, and should wrap up between $260 and $270 million.
Into the Woods held on to second place, easing 40 percent to $18.7 million. Through 11 days, the Disney musical has banked $90.9 million. Angelina Jolie's Unbroken wasn't far behind: the World War II drama added $18.2 million for a new total of $87.7 million.
Into the Woods and Unbroken remain on track to close with at least $120 million each.
Playing at 2,602 locations, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death opened to $15.03 million this weekend. That's off 28 percent from the first Woman in Black's $20.9 million debut, and is also lower than last January's Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones ($18.3 million). A whopping 51 percent of that $15.15 million was earned on Friday, which makes this one of the most front-loaded weekends ever.
Taken on its own, this is a fine debut for a movie that didn't cost much to acquire ($1 million) or market (no official number is available, but it was almost certainly a comparatively cheap campaign). Still, the movie's long-term prospects aren't looking so good. In each of the last three years, a horror movie has opened on the first weekend of January, and each of those wound up earning at least 50 percent of their total on opening weekend.
With a "C" CinemaScore and an audience that skews younger (65 percent under the age of 25), a similar fate may await The Woman in Black 2. This would put the movie at less than $30 million total, which is an underwhelming result for a movie that opened at over 2,500 locations.
In fifth place, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb dipped 28 percent to $14.5 million. To date, the final installment in the family-friendly franchise has taken in $89.8 million, and remains on pace to close north of $110 million. Meanwhile, Annie (2014) added $11.25 million (down 32 percent) for a 17-day total of $72.5 million.
Without a significant expansion, The Imitation Game was down two percent to $7.8 million this weekend. So far, the Alan Turing biopic has earned $30.5 million. At the exact same point in its run four years ago, The King's Speech added $7.8 million for a total of $22.9 million. With a handful of Oscar nominations coming up, The Imitation Game appears to have a realistic shot at $100 million.
The Gambler fell 31 percent to $6.3 million, which brings its eight-day total to $27.6 million. Big Eyes held nicely, easing 13 percent to $2.6 million for a $9.9 million total.
Selma added three locations—bringing its total to 22—and earned $633,173 this weekend. With over $2 million in the bank so far, the civil rights drama is set to expand nationwide on Friday.
Playing at the same four locations as last weekend, Clint Eastwood's American Sniper added $676,909 this weekend. That translates to $169,227 per theater, which is the biggest second weekend average ever for a live-action movie (the previous record was $96,549 for Moulin Rouge).
While its usually foolish to make assumptions about a movie's nationwide appeal based on its performance in four theaters, Sniper's remarkable run so far does suggest that long-term commercial prospects are quite good. When the movie expands wide on January 16th, it's a safe bet that it at least matches Zero Dark Thirty opening ($24.4 million), and it could even wind up near Lone Survivor ($37.8 million).
Opening at four theaters, A24's A Most Violent Year earned an estimated $188,000 this weekend. That translates to a $47,000 per-theater average, which is quite good for this type of release. Including its Wednesday and Thursday numbers, the movie has so far grossed $300,000; it will roll in to additional cities throughout the month, and is expected to go wide on January 30th.
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• Holiday Holdovers to Ward Off 'Woman in Black' Sequel
• 'Hobbit,' 'Unbroken,' 'Into the Woods' Score on Final Weekend of 2014
This Timeframe in Past Years:
• 2014 - 'Frozen' Chills 'Paranormal' Spin-Off
• 2013 - 'Texas Chainsaw' Slashes Into First
• 2012 - Moviegoers Possessed By 'Devil Inside'
• 2011 - 'True Grit' Captures Lead
• 2010 - 'Avatar' Rocks New Year's
• 2009 - 'Marley' Stays on Top Over New Year's Weekend
• 2008 - 'Treasure,' 'Juno' Jumpin' in New Year
• 2007 - 'Museum,' 'Pursuit' Three-peat
• 2006 - 'Hostel' Lodged Into Top Spot
• 2005 - 'White Noise' Resonates with $24M Debut
• Weekend Box Office Results
• Yearly Box Office