Weekend Box Office (December 9 - 11, 2016)
THIS WEEKEND For a third consecutive time, Disney's hit animated comedy Moana ruled the North American box office this time grossing an estimated $18.8M with a good hold that saw a drop of only 33%. After its third weekend, the island adventure boosted the cume to $145M for the studio with the lucrative holiday season still to come.
So far, Moana has been running at a pace similar to the studio's Tangled from 2010. Both toons launched impressively over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend and have held up relatively well in the second and third frames. Moana is currently running 26% ahead and a final domestic gross in the $240M range is possible. Worldwide total sits at $238.8M with half of the international market's top 12 countries still to open.
The Disney machine has been flexing its end-of-year muscles and the studio is set to have the number one film over eight of the nine weekends of November and December this year with Doctor Strange, Moana, and next weekend's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This caps off a banner year that saw records shatter thanks to all divisions coming through with stellar hits including Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and the live-action and animation departments of Disney proper. The studio's outlook for 2017 looks equally impressive.
Coming close to the number one spot but settling for runner-up was the R-rated comedy Office Christmas Party which bowed to an estimated $17.5M from 3,210 locations for a good $5,452 average. Paramount used the all-star pic as counter-programming to all the kid fare and tentpole action movies that have ruled the box office this holiday season and hopes to keep finding audiences during the upcoming run of Rogue One. Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman headline the cast.
Reviews for the $45M-budgeted pic were lackluster and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave a so-so B grade. Moviegoers often find comedies like these later during the holidays so Office certainly has the potential to reach beyond $70M by the end of its domestic run. That would make it second best this year among live-action R-rated comedies behind Bad Moms.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them slipped 41% in its fourth weekend and got to within striking distance of the double century mark. The first of five films from this new Warner Bros. franchise grossed an estimated $10.8M boosting the sum to $199.3M. Beasts is running 23% behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, the last film from the wizard world to open in this same pre-Thanksgiving corridor. A domestic final in the $235M neighborhood seems likely.
Remaining films in the marketplace all came in under $6M each. The leggy sci-fi drama Arrival declined by only 23% to an estimated $5.6M lifting Paramount's cume to $81.5M. The Amy Adams film has been getting some notices during the end-of-year awards season. Marvel's latest success Doctor Strange followed with an estimated $4.6M, down 31%, giving Disney $222.4M to date.
The Brad Pitt war drama Allied dropped 43% to an estimated $4M for Paramount with the total rising to $35.6M. Amy Adams enjoyed a second film in the top ten with her dark thriller Nocturnal Animals which expanded to 1,262 locations and grossed an estimated $3.2M. The Focus title averaged a mild $2,531 and upped its cume to $6.2M.
Also going after serious-minded adults looking for awards contenders was Manchester By The Sea which jumped into the top ten with its solid expansion taking in an estimated $3.2M from only 366 sites for a superb $8,620 average. That was the best per-theater average for any film in the top ten. From Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, the Casey Affleck film has earned eight Critics Choice Award nominations and was named best film of the year by the National Board of Review. Next weekend sees the nationwide expansion.
The DreamWorks Animation title Trolls is headed for the $150M mark and this weekend collected an estimated $3.1M, off 34%, for a new cume of $145.5M for Fox. Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge continues to show good legs dipping 31% in its sixth round to an estimated $2.3M for $60.9M to date for Lionsgate.
Jessica Chastain's new gun lobby thriller Miss Sloane misfired in its national expansion grossing an estimated $1.9M from 1,648 locations for a lousy $1,153 average landing just outside the top ten. Buzz was never too strong, reviews were mixed at best, competition was fierce for smart fare, and dramas aimed at adult women tend to be challenged in early and mid December. Cume for EuropaCorp including the two weeks of limited play is a mere $2M with dull prospects ahead.
Lionsgate enjoyed a sensational debut for its original musical La La Land which has set Oscar buzz ablaze. Showered with praise by film critics, the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone film opened to an estimated $855,000 from only five theaters in New York and Los Angeles generating a jaw-dropping $171,000 average - one of the best in industry history. La La Land has already won Best Picture from the New York Film Critics Circle and is a top contender in the same category for the Academy Awards.
Theaters are programming multiple screens for the much talked about PG-13 pic. On Sunday alone, the three L.A. sites offered a total of 76 showtimes to absorb all possible business. The distrib will expand Friday into 200 theaters in 40 markets and then play nationally on Christmas Day for what should be a leggy winter run as Golden Globe and Oscar nominations roll out in the coming weeks.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $73.1M which was up 10% from last year when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 stayed at number one for a fourth time with $11.4M; but off 1% from 2014 when Exodus: Gods and Kings opened in the top spot with $24.1M.
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Watch the trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight.
Compared to projections, Office Christmas Party came in above my $14M forecast while Miss Sloane came in below my $4M prediction.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Rogue One and Collateral Beauty both open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: December 11, 2016 at 3:35PM ET
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