The Hobbit franchise is bowing out with a bang.
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies vanquished the competition for a third straight weekend with $21.9 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. Since opening Dec. 17, the final installment in the blockbuster fantasy trilogy has earned $220.8 million.
Despite earning mixed reviews (61% critics’ approval on RottenTomatoes.com, and a more positive 78% from audiences), Battle is yet another high-grossing entry in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit franchise, following the $303 million tally of 2012′s An Unexpected Journey, and $258.4 million for 2013′s The Desolation of Smaug, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
“It’s a good way to start 2015,” says Rentrak analyst Paul Dergarabedian, who notes the 8.4% uptick in overall box office from the same weekend last year, when Frozen landed at No. 1 with $19.6 million. With a slew of other successful entries this holiday season, “we had a solid Christmas, and we needed it, and that’s driving momentum into the new year.”
The weekend’s only new opener in wide release, The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, came in fourth with a better-than-expected $15.1 million, despite anemic reviews (only 24% of critics approved). The sequel to 2012′s The Woman in Black started not far behind its predecessor, which opened to $20.9 million on its way to $54.3 million total and had the added benefit of star Daniel Radcliffe.
Two holiday holdovers continued to cast a spell on audiences, as Disney’s live-action musical Into the Woods bewitched with No. 2 and $19.1 million, and Angelina Jolie’s World War II epic Unbroken stayed intact with third place and $18.4 million. Woods, an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale musical, stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and James Corden and has now earned more than $90 million since opening Christmas Day. Based on the true story of Louis Zamperini, Unbroken has netted $87.8 million.
The strong hold is particularly remarkable for Woods, which dropped only 39% and still managed second place in slightly more than 2,500 theaters. In comparison, The Hobbit showed in nearly 3,900 locations and Unbroken in 3,200.
“The Disney name is as valuable as ever, they really can’t miss these days,” says BoxOffice.com analyst Phil Contrino, noting that Woods and Unbroken are overperforming. While Jolie helped drum up publicity for Unbroken, “that ultimately only gets a movie so far. The trailers made it clear that this is kind of three movies in one. … There’s something for everyone in there. People look at it as compelling.”
Rounding out the top five is another franchise conclusion, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which came in fifth with $14.5 million ($89.7 million to date). Musical remake Annie danced to sixth with $11.4 million, while awards magnet The Imitation Game decoded $8.1 million for seventh, tallying $30.8 million since November.
Blockbusters The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 and Big Hero 6 continued to muscle forward, coming in at No. 8 ($7.7 million) and No. 10 ($4.8 million) respectively. Mark Wahlberg vehicle The Gambler wagered $6.3 million in its second weekend, taking ninth place ($27.6 million total).
Meanwhile, in limited release, Clint Eastwood’s Iraq war drama American Sniper starring Bradley Cooper shot to $2.2 million total in its second weekend, earning $640,000 in four theaters with a per-theater average of $160,000. Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma earned an additional $645,000 in 22 theaters, bringing in $2.1 million since Christmas Day.