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article imageFinal 'Hobbit' wins; 'The Interview' stalls over long holiday

By Tim O'Brien     Dec 28, 2014 in Entertainment
One wouldn't know it from the hype, but "The Interview" was never going to challenge for the top spot at the Christmas holiday box office.
"The Hobbit: "The Battle of the Five Armies" remained on top as it always does well in big cities (not so much in smaller venues). It was followed by "Unbroken," the uplifting World War II drama directed by Angelina Jolie. Following that was "Into the Woods," a musical extravaganza with an all-star cast.
Those films helped fuel the box office as over-achievers and as the end of the year approaches, it feels much better than it did a month ago.
Now, enter Seth Rogan and James Franco. Come on, be realistic.
Even if "The Interview" was on its original schedule of around 3,000 theaters, it was not going to be huge. It is a comedy and not a very good one, and that alone would have had it around $20 million. Now, with all of its troubles and controversy, it should have done better than it did, with its 331 theaters.
So, the total so far is for the theaters as streaming services do not get added in that count. If they are added, it will land in the projected $3-4 million. For now, a total take is $2.85 million for the four-day weekend.
Getting those totals added in is kind of sketchy as streaming services were hacked along the way, too. Then there were illegal downloads, which didn't help Sony at all. In order to show the hackers that they cannot censor or hurt free speech, illegally downloading was not the answer.
1. "The Hobbit" The Battle of the Five Armies" - $54.5 million four-day; $41.42 million
2. "Unbroken" - $47.34 million four-day; $31.75 million, three-day
3. "Into the Woods" - $46.11 million four-day; $31.02 million
* "The Interview" - $2.85 million four-day; $1.81 million, three-day.
These figures include the long holiday weekend as well as the usual three-day. That means thee figures in many headlines and stories will seem larger than just a normal weekend. For example, depending on the story, one could easily see two figures and one would seem wrong, but in reality, both are correct.
Even "Annie" and Night at the Museum" did fine and dandy over the long holiday and warmer weather over many parts of the U.S. helped people get out, and spend money, too.
The four theater release of "American Sniper" did big business and "Selma" did as well in its limited run. Those now qualify for Oscar consideration.
But it was "The Interview" that grabbed the headlines, and the jury is still out over its success. But not here. It did not pan it, no matter what it feels like. It was not really about the movie as it went on and some of the stories were only focused on that hype.
The real story going on is the hacking in general and the blame game. It is also about the future of how films get released. Will the start the all platforms idea? Was this actually a test case to streaming movies at the same time as they are released in theaters?
With the movie dipping as the weekend progresses, it is now up to the major chains to make a decision to show it. A business decision may be to ignore it now. Or they can play it later in January when the box office slows to a drip.
In the end, hackers or not, "The Interview" is not a good movie. That usually wins the day. The illegal downloads did not help Sony at all, so making a statement that way, actually hurt.
* On a personal note: the ideal situation, perhaps, was this. Completely take it off the market until the middle of January. Get the theater chains back on board and then splash it big then. January is a bad month for box office, so that will help ignite it. With the way it was done with sporadic streaming and those independent theaters leading the way, it did not pan out. It is too late now as the hype is gone with its release already.
More about The Intervew, The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies, unbroken, Into the Woods, Box office
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