Thursday, December 25, 2014









Disney’s musical “Into the Woods” and Universal’s war drama “Unbroken” have opened impressively on Christmas Day in the U.S., with early estimates showing both at around $10 million for their opening days.

The launches leave each with prospects of a four-day Christmas weekend opening of about $30 million. That’s slightly above forecasts for “Into the Woods” and well above recent projections for “Unbroken.”

“Woods” and “Unbroken” overcame the distraction surrounding Sony’s limited release of “The Interview” at more than 300 independent locations — with a best-case scenario of $3 million for $4 million for its four days. But with the movie showing on four different platforms as of Tuesday and reviews that were mixed, the theatrical numbers may wind up being less than stellar.

Paramount saw respectable Christmas business from “The Gambler,” with about $4 million at 2,478 locations, while the Weinstein Co.’s “Big Eyes” turned in a moderate $1.5 million at 1,307 sites.

“Into the Woods” started solidly with $1.1 million in Christmas Eve shows in North America — far ahead of the Dec. 18 latenight opening for Sony’s musical  “Annie,” which opened with $360,000.

Angelina Jolie-directed “Unbroken,” which also launched respectably with $850,000 in Christmas Eve showings at 1,979 North American theaters. Universal expanded “Unbroken” into 3,131 locations on Christmas Day.

The Christmas Day launches for “Into the Woods” and “Unbroken” may put them in the vicinity of New Line-MGM’s second weekend of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which had been estimated to come out on top in the $30 million to $35 million range. “Five Armies” took in $6 million at 3,875 locations on Christmas Eve to lift its eight-day U.S. total to $114 million.





Angelina Jolie's World War II drama Unbroken and Disney's Into the Woods are feeling plenty of cheer at the Christmas Day box office, where they are dominating the action.

Early Thursday estimates show Unbroken grossing in the mid- to low-teens for the day from 3,131 theaters. That's ahead of expectations, and marks a victory for Jolie's career as a director.

Unbroken, based on Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling biography, stars Jack O'Connell as World War II hero Louis Zamperini. The Universal film follows Zamperini as he's stranded in the ocean after a plane crash and then captured and tortured as a prisoner of war.

Heading into the long holiday, Unbroken was expected to earn $27 million to $30 million for the four-day weekend. Based on Thursday's opening numbers, it is likely to cross $30 million.

Into the Woods is expected to finish Christmas Day with $10 million or more in ticket sales from 2,440 locations, putting it in a close race with Unbroken. For the four-day holiday weekend, both films should cross $30 million.

The adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical looks to continue Disney's winning streak at the box office, and stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp.

The other high-profile Christmas Day release is Sony's The Interview, the controversial R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as two bumbling journalists hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean president Kim Jong-un. Sony pulled the movie last week from its Dec. 25 release after the group behind the unprecedented hack attack of Sony threatened theaters.

However, after President Barack Obama criticized Sony for caving, the studio announced Tuesday it will release The Interview in more than 330 independent theaters and on VOD.

The movie won't be a big grosser, considering its limited footprint and the fact that it was made available online Wednesday (it was also quickly pirated). Presently, The Interview is pacing to earn $2 million for the four-day holiday weekend.

After Unbroken and Into the Woods, the other two Christmas Day nationwide openers are Paramount's The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg as a literature professor who has a secret life as a gambler, and Tim Burton's Big Eyes.

Rupert Wyatt directed The Gambler, which is pacing to earn $3 million to $4 million from 2,478 locations on Christmas Day.

Big Eyes, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, is playing in far fewer theaters and could earn $1.5 million for the day from 1,307 locations. The film, from The Weinstein Co., centers on artist Margaret Keane (Adams), whose work was claimed by her then-husband, Walter Keane.

Holdover The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, which has earned $113.96 million domestically in its first eight days, is expected to do strong business again this weekend, and family films Annie and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which also debuted last weekend, should also benefit from the holiday weekend.




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