Led by Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, a strong slate of Christmas holdovers and new entry The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death drove revenue up more than 8 percent as a strong holiday season came to a close.
The spike in moviegoing is welcome news for Hollywood after an overall troubled 2014, when revenue tumbled more than 5 percent over 2013 and attendance hit a two-decade low.
New Line and MGM’s Hobbit topped the North American chart for the third consecutive weekend, earning $21.9 million to jump the $200 million mark and finish Sunday with a domestic total of $220.8 million.
Rob Marshall's musical Into the Woods and Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, which has done far more business than expected, remained in a close race in their second weekends, placing No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, with more than $18 million in ticket sales. Into the Woods has now earned just north of $90 million domestically for Disney, while Unbroken has grossed $87.8 million for Universal.
Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death came in No. 4 with a strong $15.1 million. Without Daniel Radcliffe, no one was sure how the sequel would fare. The horror film galvanized younger moviegoers, with 62 percent of ticket buyers under the age of 25. The first The Woman in Blackdebuted to $20.9 million in February 2012 on its way to $127.7 million worldwide.
The follow-up, taking place 40 years after the events of the first film, was once again produced by Exclusive Media, Hammer Films and Entertainment One. Relativity Media acquired U.S. rights to Women in Black 2 for $1 million.
In its third weekend, Fox’s family-friendly Night at the Museum, reteaming director Shawn Levy and actor Ben Stiller, rounded out the top five with $14.5 million for a domestic total of $89.8 million.
Sony’s family entry Annie, also in its third weekend, grew its domestic total to $72.6 million after earning another $11.4 million. The musical placed No. 6.
Among specialty award contenders, The Weinstein Co.’s The Imitation Game raced past the $30 million mark as it moved up the chart to No. 7, grossing $8.1 million from only 754 theaters for a domestic total of $30.8 million. That’s ahead of TWC’s Oscar-winning The King’s Speech, which had earned $22.9 at the same point in its run (Harvey Weinstein's team used the same release plan for both films).
Another high-profile Christmas release, Sony’s The Interview, saw a sizable drop-off in its second weekend in theaters as the controversial Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy expanded its VOD footprint to cable carriers, satellite and telecom.
Despite upping its theater from from 331 to 581, The Interview tumbled more than 40 percent to $1.1 million for a theatrical total of $4.8 million.