Weekend Box Office (January 1 - 3, 2016)

by Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND Star Wars: The Force Awakens came within a hair of becoming the top grossing film of all-time, leading the pack easily for a third straight weekend while the latest film from Quentin Tarantino expanded nationwide and made some noise of its own.

Coming within only $20M of the all-time domestic box office record in only 17(!) days, Star Wars: The Force Awakens remained at number one for a third consecutive weekend taking in an estimated $88.3M bringing its out-of-this-galaxy total to $740M, again in only 17 days. Current champ Avatar should be moving into the center lane to let The Force Awakens pass it on the left as early as tomorrow, no later than Tuesday. Since Avatar's ascent to the throne in 2010 (including a Special Edition re-release) there have been a couple of films where people thought, will this be the one to topple James Cameron's stranglehold on the charts? But neither Batman nor The Avengers could put up a fight, though they valiantly tried. Jurassic World shocked the world with its $652M take from this summer, which eclipsed the initial release of Titanic ($600M) but even Chris Pratt fell just a little short. I think, however, that when the rumblings started that there would be a new Star Wars film on the horizon, people starting thinking that this could be it. And then the first trailer came out and fanboys everywhere wet their pants in anticipation. And when the opening night/day/weekend records came crashing down, it was a forgone conclusion that Avatar would fall too, but in less than three weeks? After its third weekend, Avatar wasn't even halfway to its final total ($352M of $750M). Titanic was barely a quarter of the way to its final total ($157M of $600M). Yes, those two films were anomalies, having extremely slim declines week-to-week and sometimes even increasing after being in theaters for weeks on end (let's not forget, Titanic was number one for about 4 months straight) so it's unlikely The Force Awakens is only halfway to its ultimate final gross, but hitting a billion dollars is nowhere near out of the equation at this point. Internationally, The Force Awakens made another $96M this weekend bringing its foreign total up to $770M and its worldwide cume up to $1.51B with China still to come. For reference sake, the highest grossing U.S. film released in China is Furious 7 which made around $370M earlier this year.

What's even more fascinating is if you look at the all-time chart adjusted for inflation, where Gone with the Wind has ruled the roost for decades with a current adjusted $1.7B gross. The Force Awakens could end up on the top 10 of that list if it ends up making over $938M, which is what Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made over its many releases since 1937. Any way you want to look at it, we're living through a momentous box office/pop culture moment. And I think, it's a moment unlike any other we'll see in at least my lifetime. Anticipation for The Force Awakens was unlike any other I've seen and even looking ahead at the release schedule for the next 10-15 years I'm hard pressed to come up with another movie (including the new Star Wars films) that will reach this level of box office domination. I can only hope right now James Cameron is putting the final touches on the artwork of the Na'vi waving at the Millennium Falcon as it flies by his records. With the domestic record set to fall within the next 48 hours, the next one we're looking at is worldwide box office where The Force Awakens is currently number six all time with Furious 7 ($1.515B), The Avengers ($1.519B) and Jurassic World ($1.669B) set to fall as well. Which would leave only Titanic (2.186B) and Avatar ($2.788B) left to go, though those final two could take a little time.

The new dream team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg held up nicely in second place for a second straight weekend with their comedy Daddy's Home slipping 25% to $29M, bringing its total up to $93.7M. I have to imagine Daddy's Home Again is already in the works - let's hope it doesn't end up like Ted 2 or any number of comedy sequels that should have never been made. Why can we never just appreciate what we have?

It's pretty amazing to me how every Quentin Tarantino films feels like an event when it comes out. Ever since he burst onto the scene with Reservoir Dogs in 1992 ($2.8M final gross) and then took the world by storm with his Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction ($108M in 1994), every 2-3 years Tarantino releases another film that is completely different from his last one, yet feels like a natural progression, like somehow all his films are within the same universe, just in different parts of it. This weekend his latest film, The Hateful Eight shot up an estimated $16.2M in its first full weekend nationwide (after a 100 theater opening last week), bringing its total up to $29.5M. It has a chance of becoming his third straight $100M film after 2012's Django Unchained ($162M in 2012/2013 - his highest grossing film to date) and 2009's Inglourious Basterds which made $120M. Both of those films grossed north of $30M in their opening weekends so The Hateful Eight may need some help to get to $100M, and a B CinemaScore isn't promising, but the film looks like it might be a player during this awards season so it could get there.

There were no other new or expanding films this first weekend of 2016, so the rest of the top 10 looks a lot like last week. Fourth place belonged to Sisters which slipped a slim 11% in its third weekend to an estimated $12.6M bringing its total up to $61.7M. It's no Daddy's Home but I'd much rather see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler get back together for another film. Also holding up well over New Year's weekend was Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip which fell only 10% to $11.8M, according to estimates, bringing its total up to $67M after three weeks. There can be no doubt there will be another Alvin film coming out soon... The Chipmunk Awakens perhaps?

There was less joy for Joy which fell 39% in its second weekend, falling to number six with an estimated $10.4M, bringing its total to $38.7M. A stronger hold in its second weekend would have been nice for this awards hopeful, but that seems to be the trend for prestige pics so far this year. On the other hand, you have The Big Short which fell only 14.5% in its fourth weekend to an estimated $9M bringing the ensemble film up to $33M. Eighth place belonged to Will Smith's Concussion which held up reasonably well in its second weekend, taking in an estimated $8M, a drop of 24% from last weekend, bringing its total up to $25M. In ninth place was the unnecessary remake Point Break which dropped 30% from its opening weekend to an estimated $6.8M, bringing its cume to $22M. And rounding out the top 10 in its seventh weekend is the final chapter in the Hunger Games saga, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 which took in an additional $4.6M, according to esimates, bringing it's total to $274M.

Outside of the top 10 saw The Revenant dip only 5% from last weekend while remaining in only 4 theaters, taking in an additional $450,000 this weekend, bringing its cume up to $1.3M so far. It expands nationwide next weekend. And opening in limited release was the stop-motion animated Anomalisa which took in a decent $140,000, according to estimates, from only 4 theaters for a per screen average of $35,000.

The top ten films grossed $196.8M which was up 56% from last year when The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies remained at number one for a third straight weekend with $21.7; and up 66% from 2013 when Frozen reclaimed the top spot in its seventh weekend $19.6M.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Star Trek Beyond.

Be sure to check back on Sunday as we see just how far Star Wars: The Force Awakens can go against new "competition" from The Forest


Last Updated: January 3, 2016 at 12:15PM ET

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