“Hobbit” fans have kept coming to U.S. theaters, with “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” taking in a solid $9.9 million at 3,875 locations on its second day for a two-day total of $34.4 million.
Meanwhile, Fox’s comedy “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” opened with a moderate $491,000 from 2,531 locations in latenight shows Thursday. With school still in session Friday for most of the kid demo, the studio had not been expecting a large number.
The opening for “The Battle of the Five Armies” — the final movie in Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth saga — comes in the wake of Sony’s decision on Wednesday to cancel its comedy “The Interview” due to terrorist threats from the hacking group Guardians of Peace.
“Five Armies” has been projected to pull in between $70 million and $75 million over its first five days in U.S. theaters. Thursday’s figure represented a 58% decline from Wednesday’s $24.5 million opening day — the 12th largest on record for a Wednesday.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” the finale of Jackson’s first trilogy, opened with $34.5 million on its opening day on Wednesday in 2003, then took in $17 million on its second day and followed that with $72.6 million on the Friday-Sunday weekend.
The previous “Hobbit” films debuted on Fridays. “An Unexpected Journey” grossed $84.6 million in 2012 on its first weekend and “The Desolation of Smaug” took in $73.6 million in its initial weekend last year. The two “Hobbit” films have combined for nearly $2 billion at the global box office.
Unlike the first two films, “The Battle of the Five Armies” faces significant competition as Sony opens “Annie” and Fox launches the third “Night at the Museum” movie.
“Secret of the Tomb” will open in 3,873 theaters, with forecasts in the $25 million to $28 million range. The “Annie” reboot looks likely to wind up with around $15 million.
UPDATE, 10:35 am PST — Sony is reporting that “Annie” grossed $360,000 at 2,400 locations in latenight shows Thursday.