Fri | Dec 2, 2016

Hobbit dominates into new year

Published:Monday | January 5, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Meryl Streep takes on the role of a witch in Into the Woods.
Martin Freeman stars in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Jack OConnell stars Olympian and World War II survivor Louis Zamperini in Unbroken.-Contributed photos
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NEW YORK (AP):Hollywood kicked off the new year on a positive note with three films vying closely for the weekend box-office title. However, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies retained top honours for the third straight week.

Peter Jacksons Middle-Earth finale took in US$21.9 million for Warner Bros

, according to studio estimates yesterday, narrowly edging out the Disney musical Into The Woods (US$19.1 million) and Angelina Jolies World War II survival tale Unbroken (US$18.4 million).

The weekends lone new wide-release, the Relativity horror sequel The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, landed in fourth place with US$15.1 million.

The first weekend of 2015 gave Hollywood the chance to begin turning the page on a rough 2014, in which box-office revenue slid five per cent and attendance dropped to its lowest level in nearly 20 years. With a closely contested weekend at the multiplexes, overall business was strong, up 5.5 per cent from the same weekend last year, according to box-office firm Rentrak.

the interview

In its second week of limited release, Sony Pictures controversial The Interview, depicting the fictional assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, earned an estimated US$1.1 million, theatrically. A representative for Sony said digital figures likely wouldnt be announced yesterday.

In its first four days of online streaming and sale, the comedy made US$15 million, Sony said last week. Since then, the film has expanded to video-on-demand via cable operators and on more digital platforms like Apples iTunes.

Several Oscar contenders began to attract larger numbers of moviegoers, as Hollywoods awards season picks up stream. The Golden Globes are next Sunday, January 11.

Playing at 754 theatres The Imitation Game, the Weinstein Co.s code-breaker thriller about World War II hero Alan Turing, took in US$8.1 million in its sixth week. (By comparison, The Hobbit played at more than 3,800 theatres.) The Reese Witherspoon drama Wild also added US$4.5 million, making it a five-week US$25.8 million total for Fox Searchlight.

Opening in limited release at four locations, J.C. Chandors New York thriller A Most Violent Year debuted with a theatre average of US$47,000. The acclaimed A24 release, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, will soon expand.

Demand, though, was strongest for American Sniper, Clint Eastwoods drama about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper). In its second week playing in just four theatres, American Sniper attracted a remarkable $160,000 per-screen-average. The film opens wide on January 16.

Following are estimated ticket sales for Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Rentrak.

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (US$21.9 million)

2. Into the Woods (US$19.1 million)

3. Unbroken (US$18.4 million)

4. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (US$15.1 million)

5. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (US$14.5 million)

6. Annie (US$11.4 million)

7. The Imitation Game (US$8.1 million)

8. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (US$7.7 million)

9. The Gambler (US$6.3 million)

10. Big Hero 6 (US$4.8 million)