By Tim Briody
January 3, 2016
With the first weekend of 2016, the great box office money train ride concludes for another year. Despite most everything else getting lost in the historic run of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the season was not without a few other hits and a couple of misses. As we do every week, let's break down the top movies of the weekend.
The number one movie again was, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With an $88.3 million weekend, it now stands at $740.2 million after three weekends, it’s just $20.5 million away from crossing Avatar as the biggest film in box office history. That will happen sometime this week, most likely with Tuesday’s earnings.
After an impressive $34.5 million on New Year’s Day, The Force Awakens displays a little bit of mortality for the first time in its run, falling 41% from Christmas weekend, with only $19.4 million expected today. I expect a slight underestimation there, though today is generally a day when people start to accept that the holidays are over and it’s back to the grind on Monday.
As we’ve mentioned before, the calendar configuration is identical to 2009/10 when Avatar was released. As of this weekend six years ago, Avatar was at a mere $352.1 million, and we were questioning whether it was still a threat to Titanic at this point. The next month proved us wrong. It was also notable that Avatar had just a 9% decrease in its box office that weekend.
The Force Awakens is not Avatar, but it didn’t have to be. What’s clearer at this point is that The Force Awakens behaved like any other blockbuster released in the summer, but had the benefit of starting out with the largest opening weekend of all time and earning crazy numbers during a two week period where people have a bit more time to see movies. Its weekends have had fairly standard declines, which is against the norm this time of year. It’s like if you dropped The Avengers or Jurassic World in The Force Awakens’ release date, you’d probably get a very similar performance, albeit to a slightly lower magnitude. While spinoff Rogue One is out next December, I almost wonder if it’s a mistake to release episodes 8 and 9 over Memorial Day weekend in 2017 and 2019. There’s almost zero chance that the box office runs of those movies will be just as magical.
The Force Awakens will continue to be the most amazing box office story to watch over the next few weeks, and we’ll be here to cover it when it passes Avatar as the highest grossing film in history early in just a couple of days.
Second place is Daddy’s Home, the hit comedy from Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, it added another $29 million on the weekend, off just 25% from last weekend, giving it $93.6 million since Christmas Day. That’s an excellent total for the $50 million production, which will pass $100 million this week, becoming the 28th and final film of 2015 to do so. I do love that despite being in the era gargantuan openings, $100 million still means something. With Sunday’s earnings, Daddy’s Home crosses Get Hard, capping a decent year for Ferrell, and it’s a good rebound in the comedy department for Wahlberg after Ted 2 disappointed earlier this year. It’s probably headed to $125 million total.