“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” rung up $11.2 million at the box office in early shows Tuesday night, including a powerful $2.5 million from IMAX theaters.
That easily tops the $8.8 million that last year’s “The Desolation of Smaug,” the previous film in the franchise, scored in its early shows for Warner Bros. The strong early number also eases concerns that Tuesday’s terror threat by the Sony hackers related to “The Interview” might spook moviegoers and keep them away from theaters.
By Wednesday, the finale to Peter Jackson’s trilogy will be in more than 3,875 theaters nationwide. The Middle-earth epic from New Line and MGM should take in north of $75 million over the five days, say analysts, and easily unset the current No. 1 film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
The first two “The Hobbit” movies have grossed more than $1.9 million worldwide. “An Unexpected Journey” took in $303 million domestically and $714 million from overseas in 2012, while last year’s “The Desolation of Smaug” rolled up $258 million in the U.S. and $700 million from abroad.
The finale could ultimately finish somewhere between the first two movies domestically and has a shot at topping both abroad. It’s off to a great start overseas, taking in $122 million in its debut last weekend.
The weekend’s other two wide openers — the Fox comedy sequel “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” and Sony’s musical “Annie” – roll out Friday and are expected to take in $25 million and around $15 million respectively. Fox Searchlight is expanding the Reese Witherspoon survival saga “Wild” into a 1,035 theaters — up from 116 — after two strong weeks in limited release for the awards hopeful.