‘The Hobbit’ wins box office for third straight week

cate blanchett hobbit ap.jpg

Cate Blanchett as the Elf Queen Galadriel in the fantasy adventure “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” (The Associated Press)

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is showing some impressive fight at the box office. The Middle Earth send-off held its ground, securing the top spot on the charts for a third consecutive weekend. The New Line and MGM co-production picked up $21.9 million, driving its domestic total to $220.8 million. To retain its crown, “The Hobbit” had to contend with two resilient Christmas holdovers in “Unbroken” and “Into the Woods” and the surprising strength of horror sequel, “Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death.” The holiday hits were in a dead heat for second place, with “Into the Woods” retaining a slight edge in the initial estimates. The musical is expected to make $91.1 million, bringing its domestic haul to $91.2 million. “Unbroken” was right behind, capturing third place with $18.4 million. The survival drama’s stateside total stands at $87.8 million. “Woman in Black 2,” a Relativity release, bested tracking, which had pegged an opening of between $9 million to $11 million. The film earned $15.1 million from 2,602 locations. “Woman in Black 2″ was picked up by the studio for an economical $1 million. The film appealed to women, African-American and Hispanic audiences. According to exit polls, 53% of the opening crowd was female, 25% was African American and 24% was Hispanic. “It’s a terrific way to start the new year,” said Kyle Davies, president of worldwide distribution at Relativity. “It played broadly,” he added. “The recent successful horror films have appealed to young females. There’s this pre-conceived notion that horror is always for young males.” It’s a shot in the arm for Relativity, which has struggled at the box office of late, fielding disappointments such as “Beyond the Lights,” “Earth to Echo” and “The Best of Me.” Family films took advantage of the New Year’s holiday and the number of children on school vacation. Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” made $14.4 million, and has racked up $89.7 million domestically. Meanwhile, Sony’s “Annie” dipped a modest 31%, earning $11.4 million and bringing its U.S. total to $72.6 million. In limited release, “American Sniper” brought in an impressive $640,000 from four theaters. In two weeks and in just a handful of locations the Clint Eastwood drama has earned $2.2 million. Click here to read more in Variety.

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