With only one new film -- "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" -- ringing in the new year, holiday holdovers are likely dominate the top spots at the box office.
The battle for first will come down to the final "Hobbit" installment, Disney's "Into the Woods" and Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken." Though the 2014 box office is expected to end the year 5% below 2013's $10.9 billion, the three films have helped give the industry a much needed end-of-the-year boost. Compared with the same holiday weekend last year, the box office was up 6.6%.
Peter Jackson’s has finished on top for the last two weekends. "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" The New Line and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film could dominate the box office for a third weekend in a row, pulling in up to $25 million, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
The film, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, has made more than $180 million to date in the U.S. and Canada.
The musical "Into the Woods," directed by Rob Marshall, is a modern twist on several fairy tales and stars Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp. Tracking suggests it will take in about $20 million, putting it neck and neck with "Unbroken."
The film has generally positive reviews, with a solid 71% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore. It's also scored three Golden Globe nominations.
Last weekend, it slightly edged out "Unbroken," with about $46.14 million.
The Jolie-directed "Unbroken" cost about $65 million to make and is based on Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 nonfiction bestseller about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned war hero.
Though the Universal-distributed film has received mixed reviews from critics, audiences gave it an A- grade on CinemaScore. It has a 51% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Newcomer "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death" is set to appear in 2,602 theaters. Relativity Studios acquired the film, a sequel to the 2012 film starring Daniel Radcliffe, for about $1 million. It's expected to pull in $9 million to $11 million in its opening weekend.
The Tom Harper-directed film follows a group of orphaned children who are forced to move from their home in London to the British countryside. The film stars Jeremy Irvine (of "War Horse") and Helen McCrory (of "Skyfall").
Sony Pictures Entertainment said Wednesday that its Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy "The Interview" will roll out in additional independent theaters, for a total of about 580.
The studio released the film in 331 theaters on Christmas Day. It also offered the movie on several video-on-demand platforms beginning on Christmas Eve.
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