After endless months of speculation and predictions, Star Wars: The Force Awakens blew away all previous record holders with an unbelievable $238M domestic opening weekend. Meanwhile, Sisters and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip had to settle for scraps.
Yes, they did it. Disney’s first in what is sure to be many Star Wars films crushed the previous weekend holder by $30M, something that seemed impossible until just a few weeks ago. Several months ago it seemed like $200M was an impossibility simply because of the December release date, weather problems, shopping, etc etc. However, this is leaving out one important piece of information: This is Star Wars. It has always broken boundaries at the box office and been one of the most iconic and beloved film series of all time. Even through the heavily maligned prequels, no film in the franchise grossed less than $400M domestic when adjusted for inflation, and there’s no way that The Force Awakens doesn’t top that number.
Yes, it was a spectacle to be seen. When a movie gets 8% of the United States population to see it on opening weekend, you know you have a winner. This leads to another question, however: will the two planned sequels be able to top this number? Well, the box office is a fickle thing. Episode 8 comes out in May of 2017, while Episode 9 is coming out on an 2019. A lot can happen over the course of two and a half years. In May of 2012, anyone would’ve told you that a sequel to The Avengers would be able to top that film’s incredible $200M debut. However, three years later, the film did $191M. That’s an incredible number, no doubt, but it was significantly lower than its predecessor. In addition to that, May is typically a much more front loaded time of the year than December.
Speaking of front loaded, The Force Awakens burned through one of the most Friday-heavy weekends on record, with its $120M Friday (including $57M from Thursday) making up over half of the total weekend. That’s definitely not a good sign. The Friday grosses made a massive 23% of its weekend. In comparion, Jurassic World‘s Thursday numbers made up 8%, and Avengers: Age of Ultron made up around 14%. This is a somewhat worrying result, and is the only legitimate reasoning so far to believe that this could gross less than Jurassic World‘s massive $650M domestic total. In order to hit that number, it would need to have a weekend-percent-of-total of 36%. With Christmas just around the corner and plenty of families to see it over Christmas break, this is not an impossible goal. But for a film to be so massively front loaded, it is not a guarantee, something that seemed inconceivable until now. What are my thoughts? Well, right now there’s about a million factors that go into play, and honestly, it’ll be impossible to make a decent judgment about that yes or no until after Christmas weekend and seeing how hard it falls from there. It’ll likely hold onto first until MLK weekend when 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is sure to be a big hit.
And other movies were out as well I guess.
In second place, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip grossed a mediocre $14.4M. Shockingly, audiences weren’t interested in a fourth outing in the long running franchise, which grossed much less than the third installments $23M opening. This will still likely gross over $80M, but given the films $90M production budget, that’s not a great sign.
Sisters was in third with a so-so $13.4M. It was clearly going for a counter programming opening, and given that aspect it’s a decent enough debut. It received a weak B Cinemascore, but given the Christmas release date it can still probably pull off $65M or more.
The only new noteworthy limited release was Son of Saul, which averaged a solid $12.9K from 3 theaters. It likely would’ve done better on another weekend as Star Wars pretty much just demolished everything in its path, but this is a good debut. Given the foreign language and very heavy subject material, this likely won’t ever play in more than a few dozen theaters at most.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was down a fine 50% in its fifth weekendwith a total of $5.6M, bringing its new domestic total to $254M.
Creed was down 50% as well, giving it a weekend of around $5M. That’s a new domestic total of $87M. If it can hold on over the next few weeks, it may just barely top the $100M domestic mark. Regardless, this is still a win.
Krampus dropped 55% in its third weekend, down to $3.8M. That gives it a new domestic total of $34.8M. That’s a fairly sharp drop, but considering it lost 548 theaters to Star Wars, that isn’t terrible. It still may have enough juice to squeeze past $40M domestic, a pretty excellent result all things considered.
The only major loser from last weekend was In the Heart of the Sea, which plunged 69% from last weekend. That’s a pathetic $18M two week total. Considering it’s taking up both 2D and 3D screens, and with the onslaught of new releases, it’s safe to say that this is going to sink without a trace.
More from Bombs and Blockbusters
Krampus – Movie Review
Bombs and Blockbusters Special Forecast – Star Wars: The Force Awakens