Movies

Weekend Box Office: One Smash Hit, One Bomb, And One Fleet-Footed Upstart

There was never any doubt that the latest Star Wars entry, Rogue One would dominate the box office this weekend, it was only a matter of how much. Early predictions pegged it at around a $132 million opening, but that was before the alt-Nazis decided to boycott the film after accusing it of being anti-white. The so-called alt-right has also boycotted a number of other companies — Kelloggs, among them — but this was our first chance to really see with actual numbers what kind of financial damage Breitbart’s followers could do. The answer?

None.

Rogue One actually bested expectations, and it’s looking like a $155 million weekend. That is well short of the opening weekend for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but nobody expected a stand-alone Star Wars film to compete with what was the most anticipated film of the decade. Despite the lack of A-list stars (or returning characters), Rogue One gained huge opening weekend numbers, terrific reviews, and across the board As from Cinemascore, so it is likely to have long legs through the holidays. Repeat viewings could even put a dent in the prospect of the big Christmas weekend openers like Passengers. The $155 million also makes it the third biggest opening weekend of the year, behind Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs. Superman, but I’m assuming it’s will be closer to Finding Dory’s 3.5x multiplier than Batman vs. Superman’s 2x multiplier. The relatively weak competition arriving in January could mean that Rogue One stays at the top of the box office well into 2017, as The Force Awakens did last January.

The news wasn’t as good for Will Smith’s Collateral Beauty. Ten years ago, a movie with Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet and Ed Norton would have been a guaranteed hit. However, in 2016, none of them have the box-office power they once had, and even in combination, they can’t muster much interest. Granted, the reviews for Collateral Beauty were atrocious, and female counter-programming is foolish when women are as obviously interested in Rogue One as men, so even if Collateral Beauty had been good (and it’s really not), it probably wouldn’t have made much of a mark. That said, I don’t think anyone expected a Will Smith movie to open with only $7 million, which makes it the worst wide opening of Will Smith’s career. There was really no reason to expect more from an Allan Loeb screenplay. Collateral Beauty will end the weekend in a lousy fourth place.

Meanwhile, a 7th place finish with around $4.2 million doesn’t sound like a great number, but while Collateral Beauty opened in over 3,000 theaters, La La Land widened to only 200 theaters, and it is crushing the competition as it heads toward a wider release next weekend and multiple Oscar nominations on top of its multiple Golden Globes nominations. It’s the year’s biggest crowd pleaser, although for my money, the sort-of musical Sing Street (which came out earlier this year and is already on Netflix) is an even bigger crowd pleaser.

In holdover news, Moana continues to truck right along, adding another $12+ million before next weekend’s animated Sing finally slows its momentum. Office Christmas Party added another $8 million to bring its total to $30 million, although it may get some extra action this week at crowded malls before it disappears after Christmas. Fantastic Beasts crossed the $200 million mark domestically, while Arrival continues to hang in there, pushing its total to $85 million. If it’s not run out of theaters when all the Christmas releases arrive, it could make a push toward $100 million. Doctor Strange also crossed the $225 million mark this weekend.

Multiple Golden Globes nominations didn’t help Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, which fell to number 10 this weekend, with around $1.4 million at the box office. Another big awards contender, Manchester by the Sea — which Casey Affleck reminded us in his SNL monologue last night is “very very depressing” (I can confirm) — looks good for a little more than $4 million, after it expanded to 1200 theaters. Sadly, Jessica Chastain’s splendid, Sorkin-esque Miss Sloane all but disappeared in its second weekend, and won’t be break $1 million.

Next weekend will be crowded with releases. James Franco’s Why Him?, Passengers, Assassin’s Creed and Denzel’s Fences all open wide, while the specialty box-office will be packed with Oscar contenders like A Monster Calls, 20th Century Women, Hidden Figures, and Ben Affleck’s Live by Night.

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