Box Office: No ‘Battle’ as ‘The Hobbit 3’ beats ‘Night at the Museum 3’ for no. 1

Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” took no prisoners easily winning the weekend at the U.S. box office with $56.2 million.  The final installment in the second Middle Earth trilogy has grossed $90.6 million so far. That's actually under pre-release polling which expected “Hobbit 3” to do $100 million plus over the five-day. Considering what a rough year its distributor, Warner Bros., has had and how most “blockbusters” have underperformed over the past 12 months, $90 million should illicit sighs of relief more than anything else. It also doesn't hurt that the adventure has already pulled in a mammoth $265 million overseas.  Moreover, while there are five new releases opening on Christmas day stateside, “Hobbit” is still expected to dominate into early January.

Debuting at no. 2 was “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” which features one of the last cinematic performances of Robin Williams.  The Shaun Levy directed comedy pulled in just $17.3 million, far below its predecessors' openings.  “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” earned $54.1 million in May of 2009 and the first “Night” took in $30.4 million in Dec. of 2006.  20th Century Fox is no doubt hoping the tepid response had more to do with its core audience being preoccupied on the last shopping weekend before Christmas than disinterest in the once popular franchise.

That excuse is also probably giving comfort to much maligned Sony Pictures.  The studio has been in the political crossfires for their decision (along with theater owners) to drop “The Interview” from theaters this past week, but they trotted out their much hyped “Annie” reboot on Friday hoping it would prove the sun might come out tomorrow. It did not.  The Will Gluck directed musical found just $16.3 million which was lower than the disappointing pre-release estimate of $20 million.  Like Fox and “Night at the Museum,” Sony is going to hope family audiences flock to it over the upcoming holiday frame and an A- Cinemascore rating translates to good word of mouth.

“Exodus: Gods and Kings” sneaked by “Mockingjay, Pt. 1” to take fourth place with $8 million and $38.9 million so far.  The Ridley Scott epic is doing slight better overseas with $61 million to date, but it's hard to see 20th Century Fox making back the reported $140 million production budget on this one anytime soon.

The aforementioned second to last installment of the “Hunger Games” franchise took fifth with $7.7 million and $289.2 million so far.  While it won't happen in this calendar year, “Mockingjay” should eventually surpass “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the highest grossing movie released in 2014.

Performing very well in just 1,000 or so theaters was Fox Searchlight's “Wild.” The adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir took in another $4.1 million for $7.2 million to date. The Jean-Marc Valle is playing well in Middle America and should continue to have steady returns as Reese Witherspoon remains a fixture on the awards season train.

In limited release, Sony Classics opened “Mr. Turner” on five screens for a good $109,000 gross or $21,800 per screen.  Much more impressive is The Weinstein Company's “The Imitation Game” which pulled in another $895,000 on just 34 screens for a $26,324 average and $3.1 million to date.

New releases on Christmas day include “The Gambler,” “Into the Woods,” “Unbroken” and “Big Eyes.”

Look for complete box office updates throughout the holiday season on HitFix.