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Weekend Forecast for January 2-4, 2015

By Reagen Sulewski

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

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As with most years, the first weekend of the New Year is basically a carbon copy of the last weekend of the old, as distributors rarely bother to release any films outside of a handful of limited, Oscar-qualifying runs during a week with little press coverage of new films. Still, with holiday week business boosting returns for at least another weekend, there's a good bit of money still in play.

There is one debuting film this weekend. The new release is The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, a sequel to the 2012 film that marked one of Daniel Radcliffe's first attempts to break out of the Harry Potter mold. Moving the setting ahead from the Victorian era to WWII, the film brings a new set of victims to the spooky old house in the marsh to be terrorized by the title character. Where the first film was a moderately effective atmospheric thriller, The Woman in Black 2 seems to have ditched that approach for a bunch of jump scares, typical of a lot of horror sequels. With no real recognizable names and a dump on the first weekend of the year, I'm not expecting too much from this, and we should get just a modest $10 million this weekend.

Possibly pulling a little bit out of its nose dive, The Hobbit: Appendices and Erratum will spend its third weekend atop the box office charts this weekend, with the Christmas week helping to push it to around $175 million to date. While direct comparisons are difficult with the previous Hobbit movies are difficult due to the difference in release strategies, it is at least ahead of the second film based on number of days of release, and about even with the first. The bad news: for both of those films, that date occurred with lots of Christmas left to go, and with just a few days left for this third Hobbit film.




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The Battle of the Five Armies was also one of the few returning films to decline over the Christmas weekend, and finds itself in not great company with those that did (Exodus, Penguins of Madagascar). The final analysis is yet to be written on this series and how much may have been squandered in terms of quality for the sake of quantity, but at the very least, the comparisons to The Matrix trilogy and its dismal returns for its last sequel can be wiped away. The New Year's weekend is not quite as strong as the Christmas one, so there'll be some drop, but to just around $26 million here.

Unbroken and Into the Woods were the big surprises of the Christmas holiday, opening to $30 and $31 million respectively, a formidable one-two punch of probable Oscar contenders forged by box office success. Dealing with the more conventional film first, Unbroken mined the story of a war hero's tremendous survival and its painful aftermath and emotional toll for a film about triumph in the face of adversity, which is like buzzword bingo for Oscar voters. That it did so with no real stars (I remain unconvinced that Jack O'Connell is headed for stardom, but he at least gets to play in the game), and very possibly just on the marquee name of its director, one Angelina Jolie, is what makes this debut so impressive. Perhaps it was just the right message for the right weekend of the year.


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