– Hollywood kicked off the New Year on a positive note, with three films vying closely for the weekend box-office title that nevertheless remained with "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" for the third consecutive week.

Peter Jackson's Middle-earth finale took in $21.9 million in North American theaters, according to studio estimates Sunday, narrowly edging out the Disney musical "Into the Woods" and Angelina Jolie's World War II tale "Unbroken."

The weekend's lone new wide-release, the horror sequel "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death," landed in fourth place.

The first weekend of 2015 gave Hollywood a chance to begin turning the page on a rough 2014 in which box-office revenue slid 5 percent and attendance dropped to its lowest level in nearly 20 years. Overall business was up 5.5 percent from the same weekend last year, according to box-office firm Rentrak.

In its second week of limited release, Sony Pictures' "The Interview" earned an estimated $1.1 million theatrically. Sony said digital figures likely wouldn't be announced Sunday.

Several Oscar contenders began to attract larger numbers of moviegoers, as Hollywood's awards season picks up steam.

Estimated weekend ticket sales:

1. "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," $21.9 million.

2. "Into the Woods $19.1 million.

3. "Unbroken," $18.4 million.

4. "The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death," $15.1 million.

5. "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," $14.5 million.

6. "Annie," $11.4 million.

7. "The Imitation Game," $8.1 million.

8. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1," $7.7 million.

9. "The Gambler," $6.3 million.

10. "Big Hero 6," $4.8 million.

Associated Press