For the first weekend of 2016, we get a lot of “next verse, same as the first” as just one new film opens up in wide release, while the rest of the holiday slate carries on with its last gasp at the box office bonanza.
Weekend Forecast for January 1-3, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
December 31, 2015
The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino's latest film, has taken quite the route to getting to the big screen. Announced as his pet project some time ago, it was cancelled in a fit of pique when the script was released to the Internet last year. Talked off the ledge, Tarantino then brought his big game, turning it into a roadshow movie filmed in 70mm Panavision – possibly the last film ever to do so on this scale, and then acquiescing to have it released normally even though it ruins it, you heathens.
Another western that's part Agatha Christie, part John Carpenter, part Clue, it puts eight strangers in a snowy cabin in Wyoming, with one taking in a prisoner to be hanged. As they wait out a storm, revelations about each person's identity start to crop up, including a few people who aren't what they seem. Since this is a Tarantino film, bullets start to enter the picture amidst all the florid speeches. A who's who of badass actors, including Sam Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, and Jennifer Jason Leigh (okay, maybe that last one doesn't quite fit) fire away at the dialogue, and possibly each other, for about three hours in what is possible Quentin's most over-stuffed movie to date.
Far from his start as an indie filmmaker with Miramax, Tarantino has suddenly developed into a box office star with clout, and one of the few director's that “everyone” knows. His last two films, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, grossed well over $100 million despite, or maybe because of, their slavish treatment of genre pictures, with audiences coming to recognize the value of his stylistic and deconstructionist approach to filmmaking. There's really no one else out there like him. Hence the clout he now has to make a film in 70mm and treat it like they used to in the 50s, taking it from town to town. It appears to be working as it grabbed almost $5 million in 100 venues over Christmas weekend (albeit at elevated prices, but still), and $3.5 million on its Wednesday wide opening. The long running time might hurt this some but with New Year's Day (one of the big movie going days) in the mix, I wouldn't be surprised to see a pretty significant weekend of around $27 million.
This weekend could see an all-time record fall, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens enters its third weekend likely within $100 million of Avatar's domestic mark of $760 million. The big question will be whether it gets a New Year's Weekend boost like typically happens, since we are dealing with some rather unprecedented behavior here. A fall off from the opening weekend to Christmas Weekend was expected, of course, since there were Thursday sneaks and a big rush factor to deal with, but it still fell day over day, which is not typical. That of course, was a fall to “just” $150 million, so let's not cry poverty here. I'd expect a smallish drop-off as the fervor starts to exhaust itself, so let's say about $120 million to win its third weekend.
More typical behavior should be seen for the other films returning to the box office, including a small-to-medium boost for some films, typically lower grossing ones that are getting a chance to breath in the extended holiday run. Daddy's Home was the surprise of the weekend with a $38 million opening for Wahlberg and Ferrell, and should see about $29 million this frame.
Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell had a modest success with Joy, opening to $17 million, and the OKish reviews and word-of-mouth should let it hit about $15 million this weekend. Sisters had a tiny bump up to $14 million and ought to see about that much again. Alvin and the Chipmunks will probably take a bit of a hit relative to rest as a family movie, dropping to about $10 million. Concussion should stay flat at around $10 million as well, but a potential big winner may be The Big Short, which could ride word-of-mouth and building awards momentum to go from $10 million to about $13 million. Point Break is likely to take a hit from its $10 million start to about $6 million, while The Hunger Games may have one more nice weekend in store at $5 million.