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Box office: Holiday audiences still preferred 'The Hobbit'

Peter Jackson's last Middle-earth trip triumphs over a batch of Christmas Day releases.
The Hobbit

Most holiday audiences decided to spend Christmas Day with a tokin' Ian McKellen iWarner Bros.

The last movie of Peter Jackson's three "Hobbit" films rode to a second consecutive win atop U.S. and Canadian weekend box office charts, selling $41.4 million worth of tickets to triumph over new releases "Unbroken" and "Into the Woods."
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" grabbed another $13.1 million from Christmas day screenings for a combined four-day total through Sunday of $54.5 million and a domestic haul of $168.5 million since its Dec. 17 release, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak.
Director Angelina Jolie's World War Two drama "Unbroken" finished second with $31.7 million after winning the box office duel on Christmas, narrowly edging out another new film, the musical "Into The Woods" which claimed the No. 3 spot with $31 million.
"Unbroken," Jolie's second directorial effort, tells the real-life story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini's two years as a prisoner of war in Japan.
"None of us ever would have thought a picture like this -- an inspirational story about a World War Two hero and Olympian -- would have performed at this level," said Nikki Rocco, president for domestic distribution at Universal Pictures, the Comcast Corp unit that released the film.
"We would have been happy at $25 million," Rocco said, adding that the release had capped Universal's most profitable year.
"Into The Woods," the adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical which puts a dark spin on fairy tales, stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Johnny Depp.
The film, which saw the biggest opening in history for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical, added $15.1 million from Christmas day screenings for a four-day total of $46.1 million, distributor Walt Disney Co. said.
"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" took fourth place in its second week of release with $20.6 million, while the musical "Annie" rounded out the top five with $16.6 million. In a rare feat, box office sales for both films exceeded their opening weekend numbers.
Another new release, "The Gambler," opened in seventh with $9.3 million, behind "The Hunger Games"' $10 million take. The low-budget film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, is a remake of the 1974 James Caan classic about a professor with a devastating weakness for high-stakes gambling.
The relatively solid box office numbers put Hollywood on track to end the year down just over five percent from 2013's record performance, an improvement over the double-digit falloff that was in place during the summer, according to Rentrak.

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