The Hobbit

Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced dragon Smaug briefly shows up in "The Battle of the FiWarner Bros. Pictures

Moviegoers were gifted a pile of new movies for the holidays, but many still chose to return to Middle-earth. Over the first weekend of the new year, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” amassed a further $21.9 million, bringing its bounty up to $220.8 million. That’s somewhere between the grosses of the series’ first, “An Unexpected Journey,” and the second, “The Desolation of Smaug,” and that, of course, is nothing to sneeze at.


In fact anyone complaining that this trilogy grossly overextended a slim children’s novel into three movies — and that should be roughly all of you — can then realize that, in terms of worldwide grosses, the films will have collectively made around $3 billion. That might be more dough than what Smaug had in his money bin cave.


It was definitely unlikely that a Stephen Sondheim musical would ever be a true threat to the film about a hairy-footed small person. And yet “Into the Woods” — boasting the singing prowesses of Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and a shirt button-popping Chris Pine — came close, scoring $19.1 million. That brings its total to $91.2 million, almost double the North American tally of the last Sondheim picture, 2007’s “Sweeney Todd,” which also featured Johnny Depp.


Angelina Jolie’s grueling war picture “Unbroken” continued to do semi-suprisingly well, ranking third with $18.4 million for an $87.8 cume. That was one slot better than the weekend’s only new wide release: “The Woman in Black 2,” which still raked up $15.1 million, despite featuring no one as well-known as the first film’s star, one Daniel Radcliffe.


Meanwhile, “The Interview” — the film that some have speculated might be a game-changer in terms of VOD — expanded to 250 theaters but actually saw its grosses drop 39 percent. The $40 million film has now made in two weeks $4.9 million, which should weaken theories that its unique controversy was a dastardly marketing ploy.

Top 5 earners

1 ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ $21.9 million
2 ‘Into the Woods’ $19.1 million
3 ‘Unbroken’ $18.4 million
4 ‘The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death’ $15.7 million
5 ‘Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb’ $14.5 million