Weekend Wrap-Up

Box Office Showdown: Star Wars vs The Revenant

By John Hamann

January 10, 2016

As we say goodbye to Star Wars at #1 in its final week, we'll just put Chewie and Han right here.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens box office is like a bullet fired into the sky by the biggest gun ever built. Up the bullet went with fierce velocity; however, like all things, it must return to earth.

Following a torrid 21 days for The Force Awakens, where it broke almost every record and became the biggest domestic grosser ever, the holidays are over, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant took the space adventure down on its 22nd day, ending a long streak of absolutely dominant number ones. After earning $770 million over 21 days (averaging about $37 million per day), The Force was bound to falter, and is somewhat ironic that it is brought down by an earthy, rough, R-rated film like The Revenant.

Along with The Revenant, which prior to this weekend played on a handful of screens, our other opener is the standard early January horror film, this time called The Forest instead of Devil’s Due (2014), Mama (2013), or The Rite (2011). The Forest used an effective marketing campaign and situation to play above the holdovers, but isn’t good enough to break out. Awards season positioning is also happening at the box office this weekend, as films like The Big Short, Carol, Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight and Anomalisa all add screens to good and bad results. The outcome is another big overall weekend at the box office, as the streak started by Star Wars continues.


Our number one film of the weekend is again Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it is closer to second spot because The Revenant over-performed. We knew the end of the holidays and kids being back in school were going to push The Force Awakens down on Friday, and down it went, losing to The Revenant. The Force earned $10.8 million on Friday, a loss on paper by $3.6 million to the DiCaprio film. There was no loss on Saturday and Sunday, though, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens bounced back over the remainder of the weekend, earning $41.6 million. That’s off 54% compared to last weekend, which is a large but completely expected result.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has now reached an incredible $812 million at the domestic box office. With so much earned over a short period of time, larger drops have to be expected, as even The Force can’t shine as brightly as it has forever. The question now is where it finishes domestically. Normally, given its current total and the gross this weekend, I would expect a normal film to finish around or just over $900 million. However, this is the biggest film of all time, so I do expect some further holds. I believe $1 billion domestic is still in play, but we will know more after the President’s Day frame.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens also opened in China this weekend, giving it an opportunity to further expand its overseas grosses, which have been neck and neck with the domestic take until now. Early results show a best ever opening day for Disney in China at $33 million, and an overseas estimate at $104 million. The worldwide gross surpassed that of Jurassic World this weekend ($1.67 billion), as the worldwide take now sits at $1.73 billion. On the worldwide scale, it now sits behind only Titanic ($2.187 billion) and Avatar ($2.788 billion), two films that are likely out of touch for the JJ Abrams film.

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