ROGUE ONE (Lucasfilm/Disney) is performing as expected, massive but short of last year’s core Star Wars installment The Force Awakens. According to preliminary numbers at Deadline, Friday’s take was $72M (including $29M from Thursday night), 40% below Force Awakens yet still one of the Top 10 opening days of all time. In a sign of how much Hollywood has become oriented to mega-busters, however, it’s only the 3rd highest opening day of 2016, below both Batman v. Superman ($81.6M) and Captain America: Civil War ($75.5M). Because of their differing word of mouth, those two had weekend multiples respectively of 2.03 and 2.37 (Force Awakens was at 2.08), and Rogue One should be on the higher end of that, probably around $150-160M. What BvS and Civil War didn’t have, of course, was the vast holiday box office period ahead of them, and this year Rogue One faces limited competition for the action/spectacle audience from Assassin’s Creed and Passengers, so a $600M US total seems quite possible, which would make it the #6 US grosser in history, behind only Force Awakens, Avatar, Titanic, Jurassic World and The Avengers. It caps off a spectacular year for Disney, which is thriving in all of its major movie divisions (Lucasfilm, Disney, Pixar, Disney Animation, and the live action remakes of animated classics).
COLLATERAL BEAUTY (New Line/RatPac/Village Roadshow/Warners) tried to counterprogram Rogue One, which was a dicey proposition in any case, but made far worse by the fact that Collateral is one of 2016’s most terrible movies. It dug up a mere $2.4M on Friday, and may not get past a hideous $7M for the weekend, the worst opening of Will Smith’s starring career, and awful even in comparison to his previous “serious” efforts, The Pursuit of Happyness ($26.5M), Seven Pounds ($14.9M), and Concussion ($10.5M). Even a movie this bad will benefit from the millions with time on their hands over the holidays, and Collateral could stagger to $50M in the US, but with $125M+ in production/marketing costs, and doubtful appeal overseas, it’s unlikely to get near breakeven.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon/Roadside) expanded into wide release at 1208 theatres, and should average about $3300 per-theatre for the weekend for a $4M total. That’s below the $5800 average for 12 Years A Slave when it reached 1144 theatres, but on par with the $3100 average for Blue Jasmine at 1283. It, too, has the holiday season to look forward to, and should reach $30M+ before it’s done, a superb result for a “difficult” film.
LA LA LAND (Summit/Lionsgate) widened to 200 theatres, and should have a wonderful $18K weekend per-theatre average, better than the $12K average Moonrise Kingdom had at 178, and that film made it to $45.5M in the US without being much of an awards season player. La La Land will expand further on Christmas Day, and has clear skies ahead.
JACKIE (Fox Searchlight) tripled its theatre count to 84, and should average $6K for the weekend, not an exciting number (Spotlight averaged $22K when it was at 61 theatres, and more recently Moonlight averaged $15K at 83). Awards attention so far has focused only on Natalie Portman, and the film could have difficulty moving out of limited release.
FENCES (Paramount) started at 4 NY/LA theatres before going wide on Christmas Day, and it should be noted that due to Rogue One, it was able to command fewer and smaller auditoriums where it played than La La Land had last weekend. Nevertheless, a likely $27K per-theatre weekend average is a soft start for a lengthy theatrical adaptation with lots of prestige competition stacked against it.
LION (Weinstein) didn’t get any bounce from its Golden Globe nominations, adding 1 theatre for a total of 16 and likely to average a mediocre $7500 for the weekend.
Back to the big-studio holdovers, MOANA (Disney Animation) wasn’t troubled much by the arrival of Rogue One, down just 29% from last Friday to $3M, and with a $12M weekend ahead. It will go over $200M in the US, and the question is whether next week’s Sing will hold it back from going much higher than that.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (DreamWorks/Paramount) fell 59% from last Friday to $2.7M for a likely $8M weekend. It faces direct competition next weekend from Why Him?, but will hope to earn a holiday-fueled $50M in the US.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners) had a 52% Friday-to-Friday drop to $1.3M, and faces a $5M weekend, likely to total $225-230M in the US, about 10% below the lowest Harry Potter ($249.5M for Prisoner of Azkaban). That’s an OK result, but the issue for Warners will be whether future installments of the franchise will increase or shrink.
ARRIVAL (FilmNation/Paramount) lost about one-third of its theatres and dropped 48% from last Friday to $800K, with a $3M weekend ahead. It will hope the holidays can push it to $100M in the US.