‘Tis the season of sequels. Or more appropriately, threequels. Actual numbers and Roman numerals are so passé, which is why they are referred to as “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” instead of “Part 3.”
Remember how cool it used to be to have “Jaws 3-D” and “Friday the 13th 3-D?” Because not only were they in the third dimension, but also were the third incarnation of the series! How awesome was that?!? I miss those times. Both “The Hobbit 3” and “Night at the Museum 3” are in 3-D, yet sadly, neither of them are boasting about it. Ah, how drastically the times have changed.
The other film clamoring for holiday attention is Sony’s “Annie.” So if you’ve got your checklist out, you have two sequels and a reboot…and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about the state of Hollywood right now.
Peter Jackson’s decade-and-a-half adventure with J.R.R. Tolkein ends (for now) with “The Hobbit” trilogy wrapping up in nearly 4,000 theaters. While “The Hobbit” made $1.01B at the box office, “The Desolation of Smaug” horded just $958M.
Okay. That’s still pretty good. Is it any wonder WB stretched this saga into three parts. My only complaint is that “There and Back Again” wasn’t kept as the capper. I mean, sure it’s not as exciting as a “battle” with “five armies” but it is the title of the original tome. Ah, who cares about traditions, right?
Standing firmly on the tradition of making massive sums of money, “Battle of the Five Armies” debuted with $24.4M on Wednesday–a solid boost that the box office desperately needed as it’s likely to gross over $60+M this weekend.
Believe it or not Ben Stiller’s “Night at the Museum” films have grossed nearly $1B worldwide. Looks like more of the same antics with this edition, except with the addition of Rebel Wilson. Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, and the late, great Robin Williams also return. The original debuted with $30M, while the sequel took in opening receipts of $54M. This one will likely land somewhere between the two, although possibly less, as fatigue may have set it. I mean, just looking at the trailer, it’s hard to discern what is actually different about this one vs. the others.
Also competing for family fun is the “Annie” reboot, starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. While it likely won’t save Sony’s Christmas after “The Interview” disaster (Hey, it’s a hard knock life, right?), it should do decently as family films are big breadwinners over this very lucrative period. Should see upwards of $20M for starters and play well through January.
Expanding into over 1,000+ theaters is Fox Searchlight’s “Wild.” The Reese Witherspoon starrer has earned nearly $3M in limited release should capitalize on a weak adult-oriented marketplace.
1. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – $62M
2. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – $28M
3. Annie – $20M
4. Exodus – $11M
5. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1 – $7M
CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Fox’s “Taken 3” (January 9, 2015)
Watching Liam Neeson kick-ass is something that deserves to be under every Christmas tree…unfortunately that deliciousness won’t be shipped out until after the New Year. Luckily Fox is in on the joke that this series has become and given us this present.
I really hope Fox’s next sequel pairs Neeson’s Bryan Mills with Bruce Willis’ John McClane–Taken on Die Hard. Boom! Another trilogy is a go-go!
Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.