UPDATED DECEMBER 29: New Line-MGM’s The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies stayed top in its second session over the December holiday weekend to reach $168m through Warner Bros, while Sony Picture’s The Interview grossed $2.8m from 331 sites in a day-and-date digital launch that drew 2million rentals and downloads.

Combined box office for The Interview including an unverifiable $15m from various online platforms resulted in a $17.8m day-and-date launch for the controversial film that Sony Pictures initially abandoned in the face of threats to film-goers and a withdrawal by the five major US theatre chains.

Meanwhile box office for 2014 was projected to drop approximately 5% against 2013 and finish on roughly $10.4bn compared to last year’s $10.9bn. The summer-on-summer plunge was 15%.

That said the industry is well aware of the ongoing gradual decline in theatrical revenues in real terms, although the cyclical nature of production and distribution can create significant shifts. With that in mind, the summer 2015 line-up means it is predicted to become the biggest of all time.

The true champion of the final box office weekend of the year was The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, which now stands at $168m after two sessions and is well ahead of the previous two instalments by the same stage. The film took $8m over four and $6m over three days from 360 Imax screens to reach $25m. The global tally stands at $48m.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 crossed $300m in its sixth session through Lionsgate, American Sniper scored a massive $158,300 average on a platform release through Warner Bros and The Imitation Game broke into the top 10 following a wide expansion through TWC in its fifth weekend.

The Interview will inevitably grab the headlines although when all was said and done $2.8m from 331 independent theatres over four days translates into a mediocre $5,471 average. The question now is will Sony Pictures expand the theatrical footprint and by how much.

Far more encouraging was an estimated 2million rental and download transactions from December 24 through December 27 that generated approximately $15m, the studio claimed on Sunday (December 28).

A studio representative declined to break down the number by platforms — which as of December 28 included iTunes — or rental vs download.

The studio claimed this four-day period had already made The Interview its biggest ever online release.

Overall box office for the top 12 surged 47.7% against last weekend and gained roughly 3% on the same session in 2013 thanks to a modest 25% drop by the Hobbit finale and a solid performance by the top 12.

Disney’s musical Into The Woods directed by Rob Marshall and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and James Corden opened at number two on $31.1m, rising to $46.1m over four days.

Disney said Into The Woods overtook $27.8m set by Mamma Mia in July 2008 to set the biggest US three-day launch for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical.

Angelina Jolie’s wartime tale Unbroken starring Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson and Takamasha Ishihara arrived in third place on $30.6m through Universal rising to $46.1m over four days.

Paramount’s thriller The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg and Brie Larson debuted at number seven on $9.1m

The Weinstein Company has teed up The Imitation Game for its awards season charge. The drama surged eight places to number eight after expanding from 34 to 747 theatres and grossing $7.9m for an early $14.6m.

Fox’s third Night At The Museum episode fell two places to number four on $20.2m for $54.7m after two weekends and Annie dropped two to number five on $16.5m for $45.7m after two through Sony Pictures.

Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 crossed $300m to ranks sixth on $306.7m, although it has some way to go before it overhauls the franchise record-holder Catching Fire, which finished on $424.7m. Big Hero 6 crossed $200m and ranks eleventh after eight weekends through Buena Vista.

TWC launched Big Eyes starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz at number 15 on $3m from 1,307 for a poor $2,297 average, rising to $4.4m over four days.

Warner Bros took out American Sniper in a deliberate micro release ahead of the inevitable expansion in the weeks to come and accomplished its mission with a towering $158,250 average from $633,000 in four venues. Bradley Cooper stars in the wartime biography.

Paramount opened the MLK drama Selma starring David Oyelowo on $571,000 from 19 for an impressive $30,076 average.

UTV’s second-weekend results for P.K., the Amir Khan comedy that scored the biggest Bollywood release in the US last weekend on $3.6m from 272 theatres, drew $1.7m from 264 sites for $7.9m.

This week’s release is The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death via Relativity. A24 opens A Most Violent Year on December 31.  

Confirmed Top 10 North America Dec 26-28, 2014
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (1) The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (New Line-MGM) Warner Bros Pictures International $40.9m $168m
2 (-) Into The Woods (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $31.1m $46.1m
3 (-) Unbroken (Universal) UPI $30.6m $46.1m
4 (2) Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (Fox) Fox International $20.2m $54.7m
5 (3) Annie (Columbia Pictures) Sony Pictures Releasing International $16.5m $45.7m
6 (5) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (Lionsgate) Lionsgate International $10.1m $306.7m
7 (-) The Gambler (Paramount) PPI $9.1m $14.1m
8 (16) The Imitation Game (TWC) FilmNation $7.9m $14.6m
9 (4) Exodus: Gods And Kings (Fox) Fox International $6.7m $52.5m
10 (6) Wild (Fox Searchlight) Fox International $5.4m $16.3m