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Box office can't kick the 'Hobbit'

Also in Tattle: “Exodus” banned, Rocks break up and Cosby gets offensive

YOU CAN'T keep a Hobbit down.

Hollywood threw a number of big-name, big-budget Christmas movies at the "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," but the final installment in Peter Jackson's trilogy marched to the top spot once again with an estimated $41.4 million take across the weekend, according to studio estimates yesterday.

Director Angelina Jolie's World War II epic "Unbroken," took second place with $31.7 million from the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $47.3 million from its first four days.

Said Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian: "The story of Louis Zamperini really offered a nice alternative for moviegoers who weren't looking for a fantasy world, a musical or a family film."

"Into the Woods," the Disney-fied adaptation of Stephen Sondheim, came in a close third with $31 million, and $46.1 million across the four-day. It replaced "Mamma Mia" as the biggest opening for a screen adaptation of a Broadway musical ever.

Next up? Perhaps "Sunday in the Park with George Clooney."

Sony's "The Interview," which was also available for rental and purchase online, took in $2.8 million from 331 theaters since its opening on Thursday, with $1.8 million of that coming from the weekend.

"I'm so grateful that the movie found its way into theaters, and I'm thrilled that people actually went out and saw it," said writer, director and star Seth Rogen in a statement.

Other weekend debuts include "The Gambler," which took seventh place with $9.3 million, and "Big Eyes," which earned only $2.97 million across the weekend from 1,307 screens (although Tattle's cousins enjoyed it), and $4.4 million from the four-day.

In limited release, Clint Eastwood's fact-based Iraq war drama "American Sniper" opened in four locations, taking in $610,000, while Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. drama, "Selma," opened in 19 locations to $590,000 over the weekend.

Both those films open in Philadelphia in January.

* In other holiday movie news, Egypt has banned Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods & Kings" because it distorts Egypt's history and presents a "racist" image of Jews.

Egypt sticking up for the Jews? It's a Christmas miracle.

Egypt's Culture Ministry explained its decision in a statement issued a few days after the ban was announced. It said the film put forth a reading of Egypt's history that is at odds with the story of Moses told by the world's monotheistic religions. (Egypt is a conservative country with a Muslim majority and a sizable Christian minority.)

Censors objected to the "intentional gross historical fallacies that offend Egypt and its pharaonic ancient history in yet another attempt to Judaize Egyptian civilization, which confirms the international Zionist fingerprints all over the film," the statement said.

Hmmm . . . Maybe they weren't sticking up for the Jews.

The ministry said that the movie inaccurately depicts ancient Egyptians as "savages" who kill and hang Jews, arguing that hanging did not exist in ancient Egypt. It said that the film also presents a "racist" depiction of Jews as a people who mounted an armed rebellion. The ministry said religious scriptures present Jews as weak and oppressed.

Ah . . . So the Jews in the movie weren't weak enough.

Egypt, by the way, also banned "Noah."

The United Arab Emirates also banned "Exodus: Gods & Kings." Juma al-Leem, of the National Media Council, told the Associated Press that the movie contained historical and religious errors that are not in Islam or in the Bible. "We respect all religions, not just Islam," al-Leem said.

As for Tattle, we're staying away from Scott's "Exodus" because 1956's "The Ten Commandments" is so awesome - and so accurate.

In one of the lost verses of the Old Testament, one of the Hebrew slaves is heard to mutter, "One day our story will be faithfully told with Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson, John Derek and Yvonne DeCarlo."

* In unrelated movie news, People says that Chris Rock is getting divorced from Malaak Compton-Rock after 19 years of marriage.

She's no longer in his "Top Five."

Be Cos he can

The New York Post says that Bill Cosby is shelling out big bucks for private detectives, hired to find dirt on the more than two dozen women who've accused him of rape.

It's a move sure to make Cosby even more popular with women's groups.

"If you're going to say to the world that I did this to you, then the world needs to know, 'What kind of person are you? Who is this person that's saying it?' " Cosby told his legal and PR team, according to a Post source.

The source continued: "The strategy isn't new and it's quite simple: You say I'm a bad guy, well, let's see what gives you the right to throw a stone at my house when your home is also made of glass."

We're not getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to advise Dr. Cosby, but for free, we'll say, "This is a bad strategy."

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

Phone: 215-854-5678

On Twitter: @DNTattle