What Movie Will Finally Top ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ At The Weekly Box Office?

Senior Pop Culture Editor
01.04.16 11 Comments

Some time this week, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will overtake Avatar as the highest grossing domestic movie of all-time. In under 20 days, Episode VII has earned $740 million, only $20 million behind Avatar‘s $760 million. (James Cameron can sleep easy knowing he still has the record for “Environmentalist” movies.) There’s no stopping The Adventures of Rey and BB-8, which has already made $1.5 billion internationally, good for sixth-highest ever.

In week one, The Force Awakens obviously topped the box office with $238 million; in second place, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip with $14.4 million. In week two: $153.5 million to Daddy’s Home‘s $38.8 million. In week three, $88.3 million to Daddy’s Home‘s $29 million. Force‘s take will continue to decrease (that’s what happens when literally everyone in the world has seen the film), but it should lap the competition for a few more weeks.

January is traditionally a dead month at the movies: Blockbusters are already out, and prestige-season films have already been released. Limited release schedules also hurt many films that might have a shot at topping the box office. The Revenant stars one of the world’s most identifiable actors and the guy who played the titular character in 2015’s best movie, and also a bear that doesn’t rape anyone (or so they want you to believe), but it’s already out in some markets while others wait for a chance to see it. The Force Awakens was released everywhere at once.

So, what movie will topple Star Wars‘ empire?

It won’t be the Natalie Dormer-starring The Forest (out January 8), so Gwendoline Christie will still have Game of Thrones on-set bragging rights. But it could be Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Jan. 15). Or Ride Along 2 (Jan. 15). The original Ride Along made $41 million in its first week of release, which should put the sequel close to the $50-60 million The Force Awakens is expected to make. 13 Hours has a better shot, though. It’s no coincidence that it’s being released almost exactly a year after Clint Eastwood’s similarly themed American Sniper made $132 million. If nothing else, moviegoers will come in droves to see Jim Halpert play a grisly patriot.

But if Force still reigns supreme through mid-January, it will for sure be topped by Kung Fu Panda 3 (January 29). The first two films both made more than $45 million during week one, which would be more than enough to leapfrog whatever Star Wars is pulling in by the end of the month. Kids movies are one of the surest bets at the box office, especially kids movies with an established history. (One of the reasons Force is doing so well is that it appeals to children.)

If I had to bet, I’d say 13 Weeks will make Kylo Ren that much more emo.

At best, Force will be number-one for five, maybe six weeks. That’s behind Avatar‘s seven weeks, and a far cry from Titanic‘s record 15 (consecutive) weeks. The former was finally supplanted at the top of the weekly charts by Nicholas Sparks’ saccharine Dear John, while the latter lost to, fittingly, the dreadful Lost in Space.

Other impressively resilient number one movies, and the films that beat them:

Beverly Hills Cop (13 weeks) — Witness
Tootsie (13 weeks) — Spring Break
Home Alone (12 weeks) — Sleeping with the Enemy
Crocodile Dundee (9 weeks) — Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Force is already tied with The Phantom Menace for the Star Wars installment with the most consecutive weeks at number one. What movie topped Episode I? Tarzan. One decade’s talking gorilla is another’s kung fu-fighting panda.

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