By Brent Lang
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” showed few signs of flagging over Christmas weekend, barreling past the $1 billion mark globally at a faster clip than any film in history.
It’s becoming old hat to recount the various ways that the seventh film in the science-fiction fantasy is vaporizing records, but, familiar or not, “The Force Awakens” once again ground down high-water marks over the holidays, racking up $153.5 million domestically.
That represents both the biggest Christmas holiday result and the best second weekend for a film in history. Domestically, “The Force Awakens” has grossed a mammoth $544.6 million. Worldwide that figure is nearly $1.1 billion. The “Star Wars” sequel crossed $1 billion in twelve days, something it took the previous record-holder, “Jurassic World,” thirteen days to accomplish.
The three-day holiday should also rank as biggest Christmas weekend overall in history beating the $269.8 million in 2009, which saw the launch of “Sherlock Holmes” and the second weekend of “Avatar,” the box office titan that “The Force Awakens” hopes to surpass as the highest-grossing film in history.
Despite the furor surrounding the return of the Jedi, a few films managed to score with yuletide ticket buyers.
Paramount reunited “The Other Guys” stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the comedy “Daddy’s Home” with strong results. The look at a stepfather’s attempts to outshine his wife’s stud of a first husband, came in second with a strong $38.8 million from 3,271 theaters. That was far above projections which had the picture opening in the $20 million range. “Daddy’s Home” carries a $50 million budget.
Fox also scored with “Joy,” a rag-tag biopic about the creator of the Miracle Mop,’ that earned $17.5 million from 2,896 theaters. The $60 million film reunites the “Silver Linings Playbook” team of Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper with director David O. Russell. It is expected to be a leading Oscar contender.
But “Point Break,” a remake of the 1991 Kathryn Bigelow cult favorite, wiped out. The $105 million action flick eked out $10.2 million from 2,910 venues. The Chinese-American co-production will look abroad for salvation. It has earned a solid $40 million in China, where it opened on Dec. 3. Warner Bros., which has had a horrific year at the box office, can at least content itself with the fact that it’s only a gun for hire on this one. Alcon Entertainment and DMG Entertainment financed “Point Break.”
Sony’s Will Smith NFL drama “Concussion” nabbed $11 million across 2,841 locations. L Star Capital and Village Roadshow co-financed “Concussion,” which has a $35 million budget.
In its second weekend of release, Universal’s “Sisters” barely dropped from its debut, picking up $13.9 million to drive the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy’s North American haul to $37.2 million. Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” also showed some endurance, adding $12.7 million to its $39.4 million domestic gross.
Paramount’s “The Big Short” expanded from eight theaters to 1,585 locations on Wednesday, picking up $14.5 million for the five day period. Its gross stands at just over $16 million and a further expansion is planned for Jan. 8, at which point the comedy about the financial collapse will be in roughly 2,500 theaters.
In limited release, the Weinstein Company’s 70 MM “road show” version of “The Hateful Eight” racked up a sturdy $4.6 million from 100 locations for a $45,365 per-screen average.
Fox’s “The Revenant” also did well in a handful of theaters. The blood-drenched revenge epic picked up $471,000 from four locations, for a per-screen average of $117,750. That’s the second best average of the year, behind only “Steve Jobs” with $130,381. But “The Revenant” will need to resonate with mainstream crowds if it hopes to recoup its $135 million budget — something “Steve Jobs” failed to do. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the film as a wilderness guide abandoned by his colleagues after a savage bear attack.its release earlier this year, Rentrak said.
The new “Star Wars” movie had already topped “Jurassic World” for the biggest opening weekend ever with $529 million globally.
Disney said “Star Wars” has rung up $440.4 million in U.S. and Canada ticket sales and $449.9 million internationally, and it is set to open in China, the world’s No. 2 movie market, on Jan. 9. China is crucial if Disney’s first foray into the world of Jedi knights is to earn a spot among the top-grossing films of all time.
On Friday, “The Force Awakens” set a U.S. and Canadian record for largest box office on Christmas day with $49.3 million, Disney said. That topped the previous record of $24.6 million set by “Sherlock Holmes” in 2009.
Disney purchased the “Star Wars” franchise from George Lucas’ Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion, and has planned for a new trilogy of films as well as standalone installments through 2019.
The franchise will also be incorporated at U.S. Disney theme parks, bringing to life the droids, spaceships and otherworldly creatures of the universe that Lucas created in 1977 and is set in a galaxy far, far away.