The final weekend of 2014 has gone by, bringing cheer to quite a few new releases. Atop the pile amongst the newcomers is the Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken. A tale of a WWII hero is the kind of story that a post Christmas weekend demands, and the perfect timing of this release has certainly played a part in its $31.7 million weekend earnings. Over four days now it has earned $47.3 million in North America which is a good start for this $65 million budget film. While there aren’t any big stars on screen, the name of Angelina Jolie, even if behind the screens, does add more weight to the film. In addition, the screenplay has been written by the Coen brothers which also works in its favour. Much credit also goes to Jolie and Universal Pictures for the tremendous job they have done in marketing the film. The movie’s opening is in fact much better than other WWII movies of the year such as Fury ($23.7 million) and The Monuments Men ($22 million) which had similar production budgets too. It is also a bigger affair for Jolie as a director whose debut movie In the Land of Blood and Honey never had a wide release. While Unbroken would be making more than $100 million in the domestic market, its performance abroad would be interesting to monitor.
Close on the heels of Unbroken is the musical Into the Woods. The movie has earned $46 million over four days in North America, which includes the weekend earnings of $31 million. The movie’s budget is said to be close to $60 million, so that makes the opening a pretty good one, though the studio Disney would be hoping for similar numbers from international markets. With the names of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and even Johnny Depp associated with the movie, along with the brand of Disney that is again at its zenith at the moment, Into the Woods had a lot of things working in its favour. A 70% score on Rottentomatoes is also not too bad, and the movie should be closing its theatrical run with good-ish numbers.
Christmas did not bring cheer to all though. The Mark Wahlberg film The Gambler managed only $9.3 million over the weekend. The only good thing is that it was made on a budget of $25 million so the losses will be limited for the studio. It is quite a disappointment though since this has been Rupert Wyatt’s next film after the highly successful Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We were hoping for something better! Tim Burton’s Big Eyes opened in 1,300-odd theatres, and earned a partly $3 million. If the film does manage some award nominations then it is likely to have an elongated run, else it is going to be forgotten soon. Not the kind of a December release we are used to from Amy Adams!
The much talked about The Interview did release in 331 theatres over the weekend, though not in the big chains. It has earned $3 million so far which is a pretty good figure for such a limited release. In addition, the movie has been released through Video-On-Demand where the earnings tally has been estimated at about $15 million, which makes it Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing online release of all time. So the movie’s controversy has helped it to gather more attention than a normal day would have. The movie’s production budget though is $44 million, so it remains to be seen if Sony would expand the release of the movie any further.
And finally, talking of the movie holding the top spot at the domestic box-office charts, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The movie has earned $169 million in North America, and $574 million worldwide till now. We are of course looking at the movie making at least $900 million worldwide; the big question is whether it would manage to cross the $1 billion mark. Let’s see how far the Middle Earth saga goes!
So now we round up the box-office story for the final time this year. The total domestic box-office earnings stand at $10.22 billion so far, and with only a few days to go, it is going to fall short of the total record earnings of 2013 ($10.92 billion). It is even going to fall below the $10.84 billion earned in 2012. While a weaker summer would have led to this shortcoming, the studios would have benefited from strong global earnings, especially from China. It is a story which is expected to continue as the face of Hollywood is going through a change… Exciting times ahead!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ($41.4 million; second weekend)
2. Unbroken ($31.7 million)
3. Into the Woods ($31.0 million)
4. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb ($20.6 million; second weekend)
5. Annie ($16.6 million; second weekend)