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Just like its predecessors, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies spent a third consecutive weekend at number one ruling over a strong marketplace. The final Middle Earth film rang in the new year with an estimated $21.9M dropping a sizable 47% from the post-Christmas frame. To date, the Peter Jackson epic has collected a stellar $220.8M domestically and looks on course to reach the vicinity of $260M by the end of its North American run. That would edge out the $258.4M of the last film The Desolation of Smaug but fall below the $303M of the first chapter of the trilogy, An Unexpected Journey which was the fantasy franchise's first film in nine years. The threequel should see rapid erosion in the weeks ahead now that the holidays are over and fans have already seen it.
A wide assortment of flashy choices brought large numbers of moviegoers out to the multiplexes driving the box office to the best Christmas holiday weekend in five years. Holding onto the crown for a second straight frame was the concluding Middle Earth chapter The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which dipped 24% to an estimated $41.4M pushing the total to $168.5M after 12.5 days. That puts the final film of the trilogy 20% ahead of last year's The Desolation of Smaug and even with 2012's An Unexpected Journey after the same number of December days. Tentpole sequels normally tumble in their second weekends but the holidays helped soften the blow in this case. With an $89.2M international haul this weekend, the worldwide tally now stands at $573.6M with a billion dollars likely by the end.
It's the beginning of the end for the Middle Earth Saga as the final chapter in the six-film epic opened this weekend at number one, destroying everything in its path even as it slipped from previous entries. Two other films debuted to middling numbers while most holdovers had substantial falls.
Ridley Scott's latest historical epic - the Moses tale Exodus: Gods and Kings - opened at number one at the North American box office topping another sluggish frame. The Fox release debuted to an estimated $24.5M from 3,503 locations for a good $6,994 average. It was a nice start for a non-franchise film debuting in mid-December, a typically slow period when Christmas shopping distracts a large number of adults.
The annual post-turkey blues kicked in, and kicked in hard. North America's box office slumped to its second worst weekend of 2014 with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 easily holding onto the crown for the third consecutive time. Lionsgate's latest chapter in the Katniss franchise grossed an estimated $21.6M dropping 62% from the Thanksgiving holiday session. That was slightly better than the 65% fall that Catching Fire suffered this same weekend last year.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Thanksgiving holiday session was ruled by a leftover literary-based sequel as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 remained at number one with an estimated $56.9M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday span. Across the five-day weekend from Wednesday-to-Sunday, the latest Katniss adventure amassed a stellar $82.7M. New releases did not come close to reaching these heights.
To no surprise, the latest Katniss Everdeen flick The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soared to the top of the box office scoring the best opening of the entire year and grossed an estimated $123M. But the Lionsgate film also generated the lowest opening weekend for the three-film series taking in 22% less than its predecessor Catching Fire's $158.1M from this very same weekend last year.
This weekend, 20 years after the release of the original, the Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels sequel Dumb and Dumber To ruled the box office while last weekend's biggest hits had small falls. The rest of the box office was mediocre at best.
Hollywood's lucrative holiday movie season kicked off with two event films which both connected with their respective audiences delivering a potent one-two punch driving the box office to its best sales in three months. Disney's animated action-comedy Big Hero 6 opened at number one with an estimated $56.2M from 3,761 locations for a muscular $14,943 average.
Halloween madness put a curse on the North American box office which sunk to a seven-week low with all wide releases failing to reach $11M for the weekend or a $4,000 average. Two films tied for the number one spot in a race that was too close to call with weekend estimates so final numbers to be reported on Monday will tell which movie takes the crown - newcomer Nightcrawler or horror holdover Ouija. Either way, it will be an unimpressive victory.
This weekend, With Halloween approaching, young women powered the supernatural thriller Ouija to the top of the North American box office with a solid opening of an estimated $20M. It's the third horror film in four weeks to deliver strong results, but the first to hit number one. For the first time in six years Keanu Reeves made it to the top two spots at the box office landing in second place with the opening of his new action thriller John Wick which debuted to an estimated $14.2M.
Brad Pitt's World War II tank film Fury topped the North American box office charts opening to an estimated $23.5M for Sony. The brutal R-rated drama averaged a sturdy $7,406 from 3,173 locations and opened in between the $22M of George Clooney's The Monuments Men from February and the $25.7M of Tom Hanks' Captain Phillips from this same month last year. All skewed to an older adult audience using an A-list actor as the anchor.
In another tight race for pole position at the box office, Gone Girl repeated as champ while a bevy of newcomers took over half of the top 10, all with decent to very strong debuts. After a humdrum summer, autumn is bringing new life into the box office as nine films grossed over $6M this weekend.
This weekend, it was a close race for first place at the North American box office between two new releases but one thing was certain -- both films overperformed and led the marketplace to the highest-grossing October weekend in history.
North American audiences came out in big numbers to see Denzel Washington fight for the little guy as his latest action thriller The Equalizer opened at number one selling an estimated $35M worth of tickets. It was the third largest debut of the double Oscar winner's career behind just American Gangster ($43.6M in 2007) and Safe House ($40.2M in 2012) and proved once again how bankable and consistent he is as a box office draw. Over the past decade, every single one of Washington's 12 starring vehicles has debuted north of $20M and was among the top three for its opening weekend. Half of them reached the number one spot.
The latest young-adult-novel-to-film took control of the box office as The Maze Runner more than doubled its nearest competitor, while films with much more star power opened quietly in second and third.
The home invasion thriller No Good Deed stormed the North American box office and delivered a sensational debut taking the number one spot and energizing a marketplace in need of excitement. Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, the PG-13 film debuted to an estimated $24.5M from 2,175 locations and averaged a sizzling $11,264 per location. Sales were driven by adult women with the leads flexing some starpower (plus taking Executive Producer credits) and engaging fans actively on social media to create must-see buzz.
With kids back in school, football returning, and studios opting not to open any major films, the North American box office slumped to its worst performance in 13 years. The Top 20 struggled to reach a miserable $58.8M - the lowest point the film industry has seen since the weeks just after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001.
This weekend, Labor Day brought an end to another summer movie season on a slow note with the Marvel overachiever Guardians of the Galaxy leading the way again grossing an estimated $22.2M over the long Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend in its fifth frame. Three of those frames were spent at number one.
Marvel's misfit heroes were once again the most popular outlaws in North American theaters as the franchise-launching blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy held up exceptionally well in its fourth frame to reclaim the number one spot. The Disney release dipped only 30% to an estimated $17.6M which was enough to surpass all competitors this weekend.