Following a $1 million-plus Christmas Day launch for “The Interview,” Sony’s political comedy is heading for a $3 million finish over the four-day holiday period at 331 U.S. locations.
“The Interview” figure will be dwarfed by the three top wide releases: New Line-MGM’s Hobbit finale, Universal’s “Unbroken” and Disney’s Into the Woods” are each projected to gross at least $45 million during the four days — setting the stage for the final weekend of 2014 to finish up as much as 10% from the last frame of 2013.
But “The Interview” has managed to generate respectable results, given its array of handicaps — a Dec. 16 threat by hackers to launch a 9/11-style attack on theaters showing the movie; Sony’s decision to withdraw the movie on Dec. 17 after major exhibition chains refused to play it, its about-face allowing it to play in independent theaters; and the pre-theatrical VOD release of the film Wednesday.
Forecasts from mid-December projected a four-day launch of as much as $30 million at as many as 3,000 locations but the “The Interview” is now playing in about 12% of that total at lower capacity venues. Estimates of Friday’s gross projected a 35% decline to $650,000.
The wall-to-wall coverage of “The Interview” may have encouraged people to get out and see movies in theaters at the end of a year that’s seen a 5% plunge in U.S. box office. Overall moviegoing surged on Thursday and Friday thanks to stronger than expected launches from “Unbroken” and “Into the Woods” and an impressive hold by “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” which led Friday with $14.5 million.
“Armies” was heading for as much as $44 million for the three days, $57 million for the four days and a 12-day total hitting $170 million.
“Unbroken” and “Into the Woods” generated solid second-day totals in the $12 million to $14 million range. Angelina Jolie’s war drama could finish the four days with as much as $52 million while four-day estimates for “Into the Woods” ranged from $46 million to $49 million.
A pair of holdover titles aimed at the family demo took the next two slots Friday with Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” taking $8.2 million and Sony’s “Annie” with $6.5 million. The third “Museum” could wind up on Sunday with $58 million in its first 10 days while “Annie” will top $45 million at that point.
Paramount’s “The Gambler” added $3 million in its second day on Friday and will wind up with around $13 million by the end of the weekend.