Universal's Unbroken debuted in first place on Christmas Day with a stronger than expected estimated opening day take of $15.59 million (which included an estimated $850,000 from Christmas Eve shows). The Angelina Jolie directed war drama proved to be critic proof on Christmas Day, as mixed critical reviews clearly didn't hamper the film out of the gates. Unbroken appears to have been aided greatly by the pre-existing fanbase of the Laura Hillenbrand written book. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Unbroken delivered the third largest Christmas Day debut of all-time, behind only 2009's Sherlock Holmes and 2012's Les Misérables. Unbroken opened an impressive 4 percent ahead of the $15.01 million opening day take of 2012's Django Unchained. The film received an A- rating on CinemaScore, which suggests the film is going over significantly better with moviegoers than it has with critics.
Disney's Into the Woods opened in a very close second with an estimated $15.08 million (which included an an estimated $1.1 million from Christmas Eve shows). The opening day performance of the Rob Marshall directed musical was especially impressive given that the film opened in a relatively modest 2,440 locations. That gave Into the Woods a per-location average of $6,182 for the day. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Into the Woods claimed the fourth largest Christmas Day debut ever. Into the Woods opened 17 percent below the $18.11 million Christmas Day debut of Les Misérables and may prove to be less initially front-loaded than that film was due in part to being more family friendly. Into the Woods received a modest B rating on CinemaScore.
Although Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies slid to third on Thursday with an estimated $13.14 million, the third and final chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy was up a very healthy 118 percent over Wednesday. The sizable percentage increase of The Battle of the Five Armies strongly suggests that Christmas Day grosses in general may have been even more inflated than usual, which has been a growing trend in recent years. The Battle of the Five Armies was the week's top film with a seven-day take of $92.69 million and has grossed $127.10 million in nine days. That places it 9 percent ahead of the $116.94 million nine-day take of last year's The Desolation of Smaug and 7.5 percent behind the $137.39 million nine-day gross of 2012's An Unexpected Journey. The Battle of the Five Armies is still likely to lead over the weekend given that its Christmas Day performance was within shouting distance of both Unbroken and Into the Woods.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb placed in fourth with an estimated $7.35 million. The third installment of the Ben Stiller led franchise from Fox was up a very strong 164 percent over Wednesday. After a slower than expected start over the weekend, Secret of the Tomb has held up quite nicely during the holiday aided midweek. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb placed in second for the week with a seven-day start of $34.78 million.
Paramount's The Gambler rounded out Thursday's top five with an estimated $5.0 million opening day take. That represented a solid start for the modestly budgeted drama starring Mark Wahlberg, especially since the decision to initially release the film wide was fairly last minute. One potentially troubling early sign for The Gambler is its lackluster C+ rating on CinemaScore.
Annie rounded out its first week of release with an estimated sixth place take of $4.6 million. Sony's musical remake increased 127 percent over Wednesday. Annie held up well on Thursday, especially given the new direct competition from Into the Woods. Annie placed in third for the week with a seven-day start of $29.24 million.
The Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game had a very successful expansion on Christmas Day as the awards season hopeful placed in seventh with an estimated $3.08 million from 747 locations. The Imitation Game has grossed $6.70 million to date and looks to have a very lengthy box office run ahead of it.
Other estimated opening day performances on Christmas included $1.42 million for The Weinstein Company's Big Eyes from 1,307 locations, $1.04 million for Sony's much buzzed about The Interview from 331 locations, $322,000 for Paramount's Selma from 19 locations and a promising $240,000 for Warner's American Sniper from just 4 locations.