OPENINGS: For ROGUE ONE (Lucasfilm/Disney), massive success was taken for granted, and the question was how big a standalone spin-off entry in the Star Wars canon could be. The answer is pretty damn big: its $155M US opening weekend is the 12th highest ever, and #3 for the year (behind $179.1M for Captain America: Civil War and $166M for Batman vs. Superman), and it has the hugely lucrative holiday season dead ahead. Rogue One is at 63% of the historic start for Force Awakens, which suggests a potential US total that could hit $600M. If Disney has to be “concerned” about anything, it’s the $135.5M international opening, which includes all major territories except China and Korea. That’s less than half the $281M Force Awakens overseas opening (which also didn’t include China), and it suggests that despite the prominently international cast, Rogue One isn’t going to further the franchise outside the US even on a proportional basis. That’s a big-time problem to have, of course: at this early stage, Rogue One seems as though it may settle in at $1.2B worldwide, which would put it neck-and-neck with Civil War as the year’s #1 release.
Despite the hilarious stories by pundit/mouthpieces blaming the embarrassing failure of COLLATERAL BEAUTY (New Line/RatPac/Village Roadshow/Warners) on a cabal of evil critics and the nefarious existence of Rotten Tomatoes, the box office was disastrous because the film was absolutely terrible, beyond even the powers of the Warners marketing department to hide. Its $7M start is obviously a particular blow to Will Smith, who like Tom Cruise is now only a star when serving as a franchise figurehead. As the only soap of the season, Collateral will eke out some holiday business, and may crawl to $50M in the US, but that won’t pay for its $125M (at least) in production/marketing costs. The international market wasn’t interested either, with a sickly $4.6M start in 16 territories.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon/Roadside) expanded nicely to wide release at 1208 theatres with $4.2M, a fair $3400 per-theatre average that’s on par with the $3100 average for Blue Jasmine when it reached 1283. That film got to $33.4M in the US, and Manchester may have more upside, as it will almost certainly be a Best Picture Oscar player.
THE GREAT WALL (Legendary/Universal) opened just in China with $67.5M, and that number will be aided by the fact that it’s an official US/China coproduction and thus permitted to retain more of its ticket sales revenue. However, it’s also a very expensive project, with around $250M in production/marketing costs, and its US appeal is much more in question.
SING (Illumination/Universal) continued its pre-US launch with $6.6M in 15 territories, for $17.4M so far.
HOLDOVERS: MOANA (Disney Animation) survived the onslaught of Rogue One quite well, dropping just 37% from last weekend to $11.7M, but with direct competition from Sing a few days away. Because of that, it’s unclear whether Moana will stop at the $200M level of Tangled, or reach $250M+. Overseas, it’s at $118.4M after a $15.5M weekend in 32 markets, and it will continue traveling around the world for several months.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (DreamWorks/Paramount) fell 50% to $8.5M, and has direct competition from Why Him? coming next weekend. The holidays should push it past $50M. It also has $19.8M overseas.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners) is still gunning for the $796.7M worldwide total of the lowest Harry Potter title, Prisoner of Azkaban. So far it’s at $207.7M in the US after a 52% drop to $5M, and at $509.8M overseas after a $14.5M weekend, for a $717.5M total, so the race is likely to be tight.
ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Paramount), which had been holding beautifully, took a 50% hit to $2.8M after losing one-third of its theatres. It still has a shot at reaching $100M in the US, and is at $49.1M overseas.
DOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney) dropped 55% to $2M and is headed to a $235M US total, with $426.5M overseas.
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Focus/Universal) isn’t getting much awards traction, and it collapsed by 56% to $1.4M, perhaps getting to $15M before it’s done. It’s doing a bit better overseas with $11.4M.
LIMITED RELEASE: FENCES (Paramount) had an OK start with a $32K per-theatre average at 4 NY/LA arthouses before it goes wide on Christmas Day. LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) expanded beautifully to 200 theatres with a $20K average, double the average Birdman had when it was at 231; it’s also going wide on December 25. JACKIE (Fox Searchlight) widened to 84 theatres with a soft $6500 average. LION (Weinstein) was no better than moderate with a $8200 average at 16. THINGS TO COME (IFC) had a $1700 average at 21. NERUDA (Orchard), which was left off the Foreign-Language Oscar shortlist, averaged $9400 at 3.
NEXT WEEK: The holiday deluge hits. There are 3 wide releases on Wednesday, including Sing, fantasy action thriller ASSASSIN’S CREED (20th), and sci-fi romance PASSENGERS (Columbia/Sony), and they’re joined by the R-rated comedy WHY HIM? (20th) on Friday, and as noted, the expansions of La La Land and Fences on Christmas Day. Things are even busier in limited release, with PATRIOTS DAY (Lionsgate) and JULIETA (Sony Classics) on Wednesday, SILENCE (Paramount) and A MONSTER CALLS (Focus/Universal) on Friday, and HIDDEN FIGURES (20th), LIVE BY NIGHT (Warners), 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (A24) and TONI ERDMANN (Sony Classics) on December 25.