Thursday Update: Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies debuted with an estimated $24.46 million on Wednesday. That figure includes the estimated $11.2 million the film grossed from Tuesday night shows (which represented a very significant 45.8 percent of the film's opening day gross).

The Battle of the Five Armies opened 22 percent below the $31.19 million opening day performance of last year's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, though that was expected given that The Desolation of Smaug opened on a Friday. The Battle of the Five Armies opened 6.5 percent below the $26.16 million Wednesday start of 2002's The Two Towers, which went on to gross $102.05 million in its first five days of release. Given that The Battle of the Five Armies will likely experience more initial front-loading in comparison; the last chapter of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy appears to be on course for a five-day start in the area of $88 million to $95 million.

Wednesday Update: Warner Bros. reports that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earned $11.2 million from Tuesday evening shows. That's quite a bit more than the $8.8 million that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug posted from evening shows on Thursday, December 12, 2013.

More coming soon...

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Update #3: In an official statement, Sony revealed that there are no further plans for the release of The Interview. This puts an end to the speculation that a VOD release could be an alternative to the cancelled theatrical run.

Update #2: Sony has cancelled the Christmas Day release of The Interview. Here's the official statement:"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners' decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale - all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome."

Update #1: Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are both writing that Regal, AMC, Cinemark, Carmike and Cineplex will not be playing The Interview in theaters. 

Other chains that will not play the film include B&B Theatres, Bow Tie Cinemas, Arclight Cinemas and Classic Cinemas. 

Earlier today, the National Association of Theatre Owners sent the following statement:

"The ability of our guests to enjoy the entertainment they choose in safety and comfort is and will continue to be a priority for theater owners. While we do not discuss security procedures or policies, NATO members are working closely with the appropriate security and law enforcement agencies. We are encouraged that the authorities have made progress in their investigation and we look forward to the time when the responsible criminals are apprehended. Until that happens, individual cinema operators may decide to delay exhibition of the movie so that our guests may enjoy a safe holiday movie season experiencing the many other exciting films we have to offer."

About NATO
The National Association of Theatre Owners is the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 32,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 81 countries worldwide.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a second office in North Hollywood, California, NATO represents its members in the heart of the nation's capital as well as the center of the entertainment industry. From these vantage points, NATO helps exhibition influence federal policy-making and work with movie distributors on all areas of mutual concern, from new technologies to legislation, marketing, and First Amendment issues. www.natoonline.org

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By Daniel Garris

Fox's Exodus: Gods and Kings grossed $2.21 million on Tuesday to lead the daily box office for a fifth straight day. The pricey Ridley Scott directed biblical epic starring Christian Bale will obviously fall to second place today with the release of Warner's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (which has already grossed an estimated $11.2 million from Tuesday late night shows that will be counted towards Wednesday). Exodus: Gods and Kings was up a modest 12 percent over Monday's performance, as it was already feeling the impact from The Battle of the Five Armies on Tuesday. The film has grossed $28.29 million in five days. That is on the low end of pre-release expectations and places the film a lackluster 2 percent behind the $28.86 million five-day start of Son of God earlier this year.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 held steady in second place with $1.37 million. The third installment of Lionsgate's blockbuster franchise was up 23 percent over Monday and down a healthy 23 percent from last Tuesday. Mockingjay - Part 1 has grossed $279.37 million through 26 days of release. That makes the film the second highest grossing release of 2014 thus far domestically and places it 22.5 percent behind the $360.35 million 26-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Paramount's Interstellar took in $0.657 million to remain in third. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was up 26 percent over Monday and down a slim 20 percent from last Tuesday. While Interstellar has been holding up nicely as of late, the film is now likely to take a hit from losing IMAX screens to The Battle of the Five Armies. Interstellar has grossed $167.93 million after 40 days of wide release and has performed significantly stronger overseas.

Warner's Horrible Bosses 2 was up one spot and 23 percent over Monday to claim fourth on Tuesday with $0.621 million. The under-performing comedy sequel was down 34 percent from last Tuesday. Horrible Bosses 2 has grossed a disappointing $44.71 million through three weeks of release.

Living up to its name, Paramount's Top Five rounded out Tuesday's top five with $0.585 million. The critically acclaimed comedy starring and directed by Chris Rock was up 12 percent and down one spot from Monday. Top Five is performing towards the low end of expectations with a five-day start of $7.99 million. The low-budget film will hope to see its strong critical reviews transfer into strong word of mouth going forward.

Computer animated films Penguins of Madagascar and Big Hero 6 claimed sixth and seventh place for the day with respective daily takes of $0.550 million and $0.489 million. Both films experienced healthy daily increases yesterday, as Fox's Penguins of Madagascar was up 42 percent over Monday and Disney's Big Hero 6 was up 30 percent. Respective current total grosses stand at a strong $186.10 million for Big Hero 6 in 40 days and at an underwhelming $59.68 million for Penguins of Madagascar in 21 days.

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Hong Kong -- At the 22nd CineAsia conference, top leaders from Philips and Wanda International Cinemas announced the completion of an agreement which selects Philips as the exclusive supplier of xenon lamps for all of Wanda's IMAX Gen III screens in China. As part of this agreement, Philips will supply Wanda with its new XDC 6500B xenon lamp specifically designed for and approved by IMAX for use in the IMAX Gen III projection system. The XDC 6500B provides outstanding performance, reliability and quality that will help Wanda's drive to further build up the leading movie theater chain in China.

With a maximum rated power of 6.5 kW, the Philips XDC 6500B has a broad operating power range to accommodate a wide range of screen sizes and formats. The XDC 6500B features exceptional arc stability, long life and robust construction. All Philips cinema xenon lamps are manufactured in the U.S. using the latest production equipment and technology. The experienced lighting specialists of the Philips global cinema xenon team are ready to provide personalized support, training on best practices lamp installation techniques to minimize total cost of ownership.

Established in 2005, Wanda International Cinemas boast 1,315 screens (including 94 IMAX screens) at 150 movie theaters in over 80 cities across China as of 30 June, 2014. In 2014, Wanda accounts for 14.5% of total movie theater revenue in China. Starting from 2014, Wanda plans to add over 400 screens per year and expects to run 260 movie theaters (with 2,300 screens) by 2016, which will help Wanda to continue to secure the No.1 position in box office revenue.


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