The Hobbit and Five Armies Barely Bail Out Box Office
By John Hamann
December 21, 2014
With a production cost for all three Hobbit films of $745 million, Warner Bros. would likely need to see a worldwide return of $2.2 billion before seeing a theatrical profit from the series. The first two Hobbit films earned $1.98 billion worldwide, so the pressure was off The Battle of the Five Armies to realize a huge profit. In fact, the film likely broke the barrier it needed this weekend. That means the remaining dollars coming from Five Armies will be profit and will land somewhere in the billion dollar range. Five Armies earned a Smaug-like A- Cinemascore, while reviews were just above the 60% mark - much like the first Hobbit release. Regardless, with Christmas falling on Thursday this year, Warner Bros. should see a huge result over the Christmas season, especially if fanboys show up for repeat viewings.
That puts Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb into second this weekend, with a result closer to Annie than I expected. The Ben Stiller adventure-comedy earned $5.6 million on Friday night, which is about 55% lower than what the first Night at the Museum earned when it opened on December 22, 2006. Despite the similarities around the opening weekend, the difference between the original and the three-quel is that the original’s first Sunday was Christmas Eve. It opened to $12.1 million, had a Saturday of $12.6 million, and then bottomed out on Christmas Eve with $5.7 million. While Secret of the Tomb had a much lower Friday and Saturday, it was helped by a Sunday that not only wasn’t Christmas Eve, it was heading into a Monday where the kids were off school, and thus, the internal multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) was higher. The original Night at the Museum had a multiplier of 2.5, Secret of the Tomb enjoyed a multiplier of 3.08.
In the end, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb had a weekend take of $17.3 million, a world away from the original’s $30.4 million and the sequel’s $54.2 million. The good news is that a film like this should play extremely well over the holiday season given that the kids are out of school, and with The Interview dismantled, this is the closest thing we have to comedy over the Christmas season. The original turned its $30 million opening into $250 million domestic, despite facing a difficult schedule (first Sunday was Christmas Eve, second Sunday was New Year’s Eve). Despite this, the original earned more than $10 million nine times out of its first 11 days of release. That is definitely not going to happen this time around, as Secret of the Tomb will likely not see a $10 million plus day, ever. Reviews were so-so at 49%, and the Cinemascore is a B+. The male-dominated cast is likely going to steer girls to Into the Woods come Thursday, so this one is going to have to work hard to match its $127 million production budget stateside.
That brings us to Annie, which finishes third this weekend. I find it sad that this is the Sony film the North Koreans left us with this weekend, as this reaches an Alvin and the Chipmunks low for me. Somehow, business wasn’t bad for Annie, as it got started on Friday with $5.3 million, only a few hundred thousand away from what Night at the Museum 3 earned. Annie finished the weekend with a decent $16.3 million from 3,116 theaters, 670 less than Secret of the Tomb received. Given the awful reviews this pile of dreck received and the string of bad luck Sony has been having, the studio has to be ecstatic with this result, as the kids seem to be coming out to see it. It received an A- Cinemascore, which is good news heading into the biggest 12 days of box office we should see all year. $100 million domestic may even be possible for Annie, which again would be fabulous for a movie that cost $65 million to make. Sony likely could not have dealt with another disaster, and they have avoided that with the first weekend of Annie.