Box Office: ‘Hobbit’ Finale Heads for Third Win, ‘Woman in Black 2’ Is No. 2 on Friday

It’s a new year, but the same old box office.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is marching toward its third consecutive win at the weekend box office.

In a repeat of Christmas weekend, “The Hobbit” finale leads “Into the Woods” and “Unbroken,” which are going head-to-head for second place.

Although the overall U.S. box office plunged 5.2% in 2014, the year ended on a high note, which continues into the first weekend of 2015. If estimates hold, this frame will finish ahead of the first weekend of 2014, when the seventh weekend of “Frozen” came in No. 1 with $19.6 million.

Warner Bros.’s “Battle of the Five Armies” brought in $8.4 million on Friday as it heads for just under $22 million this weekend.

The fantasy adventure crossed $200 million at the domestic box office on Friday and should raise its cume to $220 million by Sunday. “Battle of the Five Armies” is already the eighth highest grossing film of 2014 after 16 days at the box office.

Peter Jackson’s conclusion to his epic trilogy is also doing strong business internationally, where it had earned $457.8 million by Thursday. The film won’t open in China for another three weeks.

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The first new release of the year, “Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,” was runner-up on Friday, but will finish the weekend in fourth place. The sequel made $7.8 million on pace for a $16.2 million opening weekend.

CBS Films released the first installment, which launched to $20.9 million in 2012. Relativity acquired the film earlier this year for only $1 million.

“Woman in Black 2” could thrill audiences up until the end of February, when the next new horror film hits theaters.

Disney’s “Into the Woods” was third on Friday with the slightest edge over Universal’s “Unbroken.” However, the war drama looks to finish the weekend on top in the two films’ second neck-and-neck race in a row.

“Into the Woods” made $7.5 million at the U.S. box office on Friday. The musical, which carries a $50 million budget, is down 39% from Christmas weekend, when it came in far above estimates. Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical will likely earn $19 million by weekend’s end, raising its cume to $91 million.

Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” reeled in $7.4 million on Friday. The war drama stands to gross just more than $19 million in its second weekend, upping its cume to $88.6 million.

Like “Into the Woods,” “Unbroken,” which cost $65 million to produce, has performed far above forecasts.

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” landed in fifth on Friday with $5.9 million. The Fox sequel looks to end its third weekend with $15 million, raising its total take to $90 million-plus.

Meanwhile, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” continues to deliver in limited release. The Bradley Cooper-starrer is expected to see a per screen average of $50,000 this weekend ($80,000 for the five-day holiday) on four screens, raising its cume to $2 million-plus.

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