As expected, the four-day holiday weekend was a shot in the arm for the domestic box office, allowing a year that has been hit-and-miss at best to end on a strong note. Not every new release was a hit, but most of the new titles performed exceptionally and many of the older films saw an impressive surge in their numbers. However, the really interesting battle was for the second place slot, as ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Into the Woods’ fought for the right to be the runner-up to ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.’
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As expected, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ won the weekend, but a quick examination of the actual numbers makes this victory feel just a little hollow. The same goes for ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ and ‘Annie,’ both of which took second and third place without putting forward particularly impressive numbers. Yep, the holiday box office looked just a little rough this weekend.
Sometimes, a film can effortlessly open at number one at the box office while still being a pretty huge disaster. This is the case with ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ which rode a wave of terrible reviews and an even more terrible marketing campaign to a hugely disappointing start. With a lot of big movies opening the next two weeks, the new Biblical epic won’t even find time to grow some legs. Chances are strong that it is dead on arrival.
Honestly, we could have just copied and pasted last weekend’s box office report and gotten away with it. Outside of the shifting numbers, the order of the top 10 is almost identical to what it was a week ago. This is Hollywood in a holding pattern. The weekend after Thanksgiving is a wasteland. That’s probably why ‘The Pyramid’ was dumped this weekend. However, the lone newcomer in the top 10 didn’t just bomb, it bombed spectacularly.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’ arrives two decades after the first film was one of the bigger hits of 1994 and no one knew what to make of it ... until it topped the box office this weekend and made it look easy. Now, the idea of two middle-aged actors returning to two of the most idiotic characters in modern movie history doesn't seem so desperate and crazy. It seems canny.
The showdown between 'Interstellar' and 'Big Hero 6' has got to be one of the most interesting things to happen to the box office in 2014. After all, it would be tough to find two movies that are simultaneously so different and so alike. Both are pro-science adventures that are all about using your intelligence to save your friends and family. However, one is an animated, family friendly release from Disney and the other is a three-hour epic from the ever-serious Christopher Nolan. In other words, they represent opposite ends of the blockbuster spectrum.
Although 'Nightcrawler,' the only new wide release of the week, did end up taking the top spot at the box office this weekend, it did so in one of the tightest races we've ever seen. The top six films all came within $3 million of each other and the order could have radically changed by a stiff breeze for all we know. Heck, some titles may get swapped around by tomorrow when the studios release some more official numbers.
It feels like common sense: of course the horror movie released a week before Halloween is going to win the weekend war at the box office over the action movie. And yet, most horror movies continue to get released as far away from the season of the witch as possible. Can the recent success of 'Annabelle' and this weekend's 'Ouija' change that?