This will likely be the last time our box office coverage will lead with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Come to think of it, it’s also one of the only times we’ve led with the number three film. But hey, breaking domestic records comes with its own protocol. In its fifth weekend in theatres, The Force Awakens earned an estimated $34 million. That ranks among the movie’s strongest holds (-40%) but was only good enough for third place.
The Force is expected to hit $857 million in North America by Monday, or nearly $100 million more than the final gross of Avatar. Although the former domestic box office champ’s record has been eclipsed, it’s still fun to compare its performance to Star Wars 7’s, both here and abroad.
Avatar spent seven weeks at number one and didn’t see a decline approaching -50% until week sixteen, when it finally fell out of the top ten. The movie clearly got a big assist from the fact that interest in 3D technology was at its peak in 2010, and it remains debatable how well an original, tech-heavy title like Avatar would play in the current market. In its record-breaking opening weekend The Force Awakens saw 47% of its gross come from 3D screenings and 21% from IMAX and large format venues, compared to the 81% of 3D and IMAX that Avatar collected.
The difference for Star Wars 7 was made in that first, gigantic weekend. After all, great holds and higher ticket prices aren’t such an issue when a film opens with almost $250 million (more than three times higher than Avatar). In terms of its final gross, The Force will not reach the $1 billion domestic that many predicted, though it did cross that mark internationally this weekend to bring the film’s global total to $1.8 billion. In terms of a worldwide record, Star Wars now has almost no chance to catch Avatar’s $2.787 billion, and even overtaking Titanic for second place ($2.1 billion) could be a stretch. So sleep tight James Cameron, you remain King of the World for now.
The king of this weekend is Ride Along 2. The sequel to 2014’s action comedy earned an estimated $34 million through Sunday and should hit $39 million with four-day holiday grosses included. Back in 2014, the original Ride Along was a big hit when it opened over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame. The film set a record at the time with a three-day debut of $41.5 million and a four-day total of $48.6 million.
Ride Along 2 was expected to at least match its predecessor, but instead will earn less over four days than Ride Along brought in from three. It’s tempting to blame this outcome on the film’s reviews, which are terrible at only 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Ride Along was also savaged by critics (18%). It was audiences that made the first film a hit, and those audiences have not embraced the sequel in the same way – giving Ride Along 2 a B CinemaScore compared to the A of the original.
Coming off an amazing week capped by ten Academy Awards nominations, The Revenant continues to exceed expectations. The drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy earned an estimated $29.5 million: down just 29% from last weekend. So far, The Revenant has brought in more than $111 million worldwide, most of that in the last 14 days.
This weekend’s second major release was 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The action drama, directed by Michael Bay, focuses on the controversial 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Libya. Released in the same month that brought box office glory to real-life war stories like Lone Survivor and American Sniper, did January’s penchant for combat extend to 13 Hours? Not so much. The film earned an estimated $16 million through Sunday and is expected to reach $19 million with Monday’s holiday included. Many projections had the film grossing at least $20 million in its first three days. The film received an A from CinemaScore audiences, but received mixed critical reviews and will likely wind up as one of Bay’s lowest grossing releases – somewhere between 2005’s The Island ($35 million total) and 2013’s Pain and Gain ($49 million).
Finally, Norm of the North opened with an estimated $6.67 million from 2,411 theatres. While low for an animated title, the Lionsgate distributed pic actually outperformed many projections. The film should get close to $9 million after Monday’s holiday, which is well above the $6 million that was expected.
Here are the studio estimates for the three-day MLK weekend:
|1.||Ride Along 2||$34,040,000||$39.5|
|3.||Star Wars 7||$25,120,000||$851|
|6.||Norm of the North||$6,675,000||$6.67|
|8.||The Big Short||$5,200,000||$50.5|
|10.||The Hateful Eight||$3,447,000||$47.6|