Universal is expanding “Unbroken” into 3,131 locations on Christmas Day amid serious competiton from four new films — including Sony’s “The Interview” — and holdover “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”
“Unbroken” depicts the life of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini, portrayed by Jack O’Connell. Zamperini, who died in July at the age of 97, survived in a raft for 47 days after his bomber was downed in WWII, and was sent to a series of prisoner-of-war camps. Universal has been estimating that “Unbroken,” will finish the four-day Christmas weekend in the $17 million to $19 million range.
The film, co-produced by Legendary Entertainment, faces a trio of other wide releases — Disney’s “Into the Woods” at 2,440 sites, Paramount’s “The Gambler” at 2,478 and The Weinstein Co.’s “Big Eyes” — and Sony’s opening of “The Interview” at more than 300 independent theaters.
“The Interview” represents a wild card in U.S. box office calculations. The comedy is coming into the market with an unprecedented level of awareness in the wake of a massive hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, threats of a 9/11-style attack by the hackers, the Dec. 17 decision by the studio to withdraw the movie and an about-face on that six days later to show the film.
Additonally, Sony began streaming “The Interview” on Wednesday via four digital platforms — an unprecedented step for a major film.
“Into the Woods” is likely to lead the pack of new entries with tracking in the $26 million to $29 million range for the four days. New Line-MGM’s second weekend of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” looks likely to come out on top in the $30 million to $35 million.
“Five Armies” took in $6 million at 3,875 locations on Christmas Eve to lift its eight-day U.S. total to $114 million. That’s 8% above the eight-day take for last year’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” with $104.7 million and 7% behind the figure for 2012’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.””Smaug” wound up with $258 million domestically while “Journey” took in $303 million.