The four-day Christmas holiday box office frame was certainly more exciting than anyone expected. After "Unbroken" and "Into  the Woods" surprised to claim the top two spots on Christmas day, a certain Middle Earth franchise flexed its muscles for the rest of the weekend.

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" returned to the top spot for the ninth time in the past 10 days with $41.4 million over the three-day frame and $168.5 million to date.  The Warner Bros. and MGM release is outperforming the last installment, "The Desolation of Smaug," and is slightly behind the first chapter, "An Unexpected Journey." Globally, "Battle" has taken in an impressive $573.6 million so far.

"Unbroken" took the second slot with $31.7 million for the weekend and $47.3 million since Thursday. Despite mixed to negative reviews the Angelina Jolie directed biopic is on track to earn $100 million by the end of next weekend.

"Into the Woods" barely missed out remaining in second place but made due with another a very impressive $31 million over four days and $46 million so far.  Rob Marshall's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's  classic Broadway musical is performing at the same level Universal's hit holiday musical "Les Miserables" did two years ago.

"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" remained in fourth with another $20.6 million and $55.3 million in just 10 days.  Sony Pictures' "Annie" took fifth with $16 million and $45.8 million so far.  Both films have underperformed compared to initial pre-release projections.

Placing sixth was "The Hunger Games: Mockinjay, Pt. 1" which took in another $10 million becoming the second film of 2014 to earn $300 million with $306.6 million so far.

Paramount Pictures made a dicey move releasing Mark Wahlberg's "The Gambler" hoping it would be an awards movie (it is not).  The dramatic thriller earned $9.3 million and has found $14.3 million since Christmas. If they are lucky the studio will earn back the film's $25 million production budget in theaters.

The Weinstein Company's "The Imitation Game" continued its fantastic run expanding to 747 theaters with another $7.9 million and $14.6 million to date. Placing eighth, the Oscar player's per screen of $10,616 was the second highest in the top 10.

Another new entrant, Tim Burton's "Big Eyes," effectively bombed. The Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz flick took in $2.9 million in 1,307 theaters for just a $2,285 average.  It's earned $4.4 million so far.

Seth Rogen and James Franco's controversial comedy "The Interview" earned $1.89 million in just 331 theaters. That equals just an OK $5,471 per screen average for that sort of theater count.  The film is available on many outlets online and its unclear if and when Sony Pictures will release how its done digitally over the holiday frame.

In limited release, "Selma" marched to an impressive $590,000 or $31,053 per in just 19 theaters. The critically acclaimed drama has earned $912,000 in just four days.  Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper" had one of the top limited debuts of all-time with $610,000 or $152,500 per screen in just four theaters. The Warner Bros. release has found $850,000 since Christmas.

Look for continuing box office updates throughout the holiday break on HitFix.

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With over a decade of experience in the movie industry, Ellwood survived working for two major studios and has written for Variety, MSN and the LA Times. A co-founder of HitFix, Ellwood spends his time relaxing hitting 3’s on the basketball court and following his beloved Clippers.