“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is heading for a three-peat, projected to win its third consecutive weekend at the U.S. box office with an estimated $23 million.
Should the estimates hold, the box office leaders will finish ahead of the first weekend of 2014, which was led by the sixth weekend of “Frozen” with $19.6 million.
Early Friday estimates showed New Line-MGM’s “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” at about $9 million, projecting to around $23 million for the first weekend of 2015. That’s down about 45% from the Christmas weekend.
Peter Jackson’s conclusion to his Middle-earth epic crossed the $200 million mark in U.S. grosses Friday and should wind up the weekend with about $222 million. After 16 days, “Five Armies” is already the eighth-highest domestic grosser among titles released in 2014.
International grosses for “Five Armies” have hit $457.8 million, led by $62.6 million in Germany and $52.3 million in the U.K., both after three weeks. China will open on Jan. 23.
As with the Christmas weekend, Rob Marshall’s “Into the Woods” and Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken” will fight for second place, with the early edge favoring Disney’s musical with $7 million to $8 million Friday for a finish in the $18 million to $20 million range.
“Into the Woods,” with a $50 million budget, is heading toward profitability for Disney with domestic grosses topping $90 million by the end of the weekend. Key international launches will begin Jan. 8 with Australia and Jan. 9 in the U.K.
War drama “Unbroken,” with a $65 million budget, has performed far above forecasts and also looks to be a money-maker for the studio and Legendary. Friday’s early estimates were at about $7 million, portending a weekend in the $17 million to $18 million range — leaving its domestic B.O. at about $87 million at the end of its second weekend.
“Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death,” the first 2015 title, looked respectable with about $5 million to $6.7 million in early estimates on Friday, including $1.5 million in latenight showings. That projects out to a range of $12 million to $15 million for the weekend.
Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” opened with an $18.3 million weekend in the first frame of 2014.
Relativity had originally scheduled the “Woman in Black” sequel for Super Bowl weekend on Jan. 30 but moved it forward four weeks in October. No other horror films will open until the end of February.
Fox’s third weekend of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” appeared headed for fifth place with around $4.7 million on Friday, projecting to a weekend take of about $12 million. The comedy sequel’s showing respectable holding power and should wind up the weekend above $85 million.