Weekend Box Office: ‘Star Wars’ Is A Few Days From Breaking The All-Time Record Held By ‘Avatar’

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
earned $88.3 million domestic this weekend (smashing the previous third-weekend record held by Avatar, with $68 million), bringing it to $740 million total. That’s just a shade shy of Avatar‘s record domestic box office total of $760.5 million. Analysts expect Star Wars to pass Avatar in the next few days. Incidentally, it took Avatar 47 days, and Titanic 86, to reach the mark where The Force Awakens currently sits after 17. That’s mostly indicative of a paradigm shift, one in which movies open bigger and play for shorter periods, but it’s still impressive.

Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the sixth highest-grossing film in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It should pass “Furious 7” and “Marvel’s The Avengers” to become the fourth-biggest film in the coming days. The film will get a big shot in the arm next week when it premieres in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul. [Variety]

Of course, the difficulty there is that Star Wars is much less known in China. Though Disney has worked hard to change that, naming South Korean heartthrob Luhan its “official Chinese ambassador” in conjunction with the release of his song “The Inner Force” and its Star Wars-themed video, among other initiatives. Time will tell, of course, but I believe in the power of Lu Han.

Elsewhere, The Hateful Eight expanded wide and grossed $16.2 million, and “did not meet expectations of $20 million,” according to the L.A. Times. It’s lagging well behind Django Unchained, but not disastrously so. Potential causes abound, from the leaked screener controversy to the police boycott controversy, but I think the simplest explanation is the best: this is a three-hour Western shot mostly in a single location with a trailer that doesn’t show much (good for art, less good for sales).

Coming in ahead of The Hateful Eight was Daddy’s Home, which doesn’t seem to have been that well liked by audiences (B+ Cinemascore), let alone critics (28% RottenTomatoes). That hasn’t appeared to matter at all to the ticket-buying public, as it added $29 million more over the weekend for a total of $93 million. I’ve been making fun of the “____ vs. _____!” marketing campaign all along, but I guess I have to take it back. Clearly that sh*t is magic.

The Big Short added $9 million, for a total coming up on $33 million, which at the very least is well above Steve Jobs (yay!). Or, as Variety puts it: “Despite its wonky premise, ‘The Big Short’ appears to be an awards season breakout.” The Big Short was all based on things that really happened. So wasn’t the “wonky premise,” uh… reality? Actually that kind of checks out. Reality is nothing if not wonky.

Sisters added $12.6 million, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip added another $11.8 million, and most everything was doing okay. Overall, the global box office crossed $38 million, the biggest ever, helped in large part by a 49% growth in China. But North America was also up 6.3% over last year. Barring the occasional disappointments, that’s just what happens when you have Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Furious 7 open the same year.

Speaking of disappointments…

The Point Break remake dropped to number nine this weekend, for a total of $22.4 million domestic, without much hope of rallying. This for a movie that reportedly cost $105 million to make. It’s a shame, because I for one loved this silly-ass movie (and let’s be honest, no one liked the original Point Break because they thought Keanu was the next James Dean). Whatever the case, Point Break (2015) is now looking deader than Samsara’s parents after they got ran over by that Norwegian whaler. R.I.P., Point Break. R.I.P., Samsara’s parents.

Film Weekend Per Screen
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $88,300,000 (-40.9%) $21,359 $740,265,583
2 Daddy’s Home $29,000,000 (-25.1) $8,677 $93,684,495
3 The Hateful Eight $16,240,000 (+252.2) $6,564 $29,577,791
4 Sisters $16,240,000 (-11.3%) $4,224 $61,703,640
5 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip $11,800,000 (-10.2%)
$3,397 $67,376,330
6 Joy $10,400,000 (-38.9) $3,557 $38,721,000
7 The Big Short $9,000,000 (-14.5%) $5,668 $32,979,656
8 Concussion $8,000,000 (-23.8) $2,816 $25,370,585
9 Point Break $6,845,853 (-30.2%) $2,352 $22,430,802
10 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 $4,625,000 (-12.4%) $3,114 $274,222,959

[Chart via ScreenCrush]

This week, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, and Anomalisa (all of which found a way into my top 15) continue to expand, so all the folks in smaller markets can finally catch up on the movies us urban types have been raving about. Meanwhile, we’ll also be treated to… The Forest, and The Masked Saint, which I gather is some kind of faith-based, pro wrestling vigilante movie. Holy crap, why haven’t I heard of this before?

“BASED ON TRUE EVENTS.” Yes, I will be seeing this.

Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.