Box Office Tries To 'Party' Prior To Rogue One
By John Hamann
December 11, 2016
I hope all the films in release this weekend really, really enjoy it, because when Star Wars: Rogue One opens to $130 million plus next weekend, the party is going to be over fast.
Following last weekend's sad post-Thanksgiving frame, things perk up a little bit this weekend, as we have a real opener (versus Incarnate last frame), and some limited release films that really have it going on. The lone opening wide release is Office Christmas Party, a comedy with a fantastic cast (Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, TJ Miller, to name a few) that was going for Hangover kind of success. In about half as many theaters, Europa opened Miss Sloane, the courtroom thriller with Jessica Chastain taking on the gun lobby. In very limited release was La La Land, the much-hyped musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Nocturnal Animals and Manchester by the Sea also get some box office notice, as they are successful with expansions. If there are leaders in the Oscar race right now, it is La La Land and Manchester by the Sea, and this is just the start of what is likely a very long run for both prestige flicks.
It was a close race to number one this weekend, as Moana tried to hold off the upstart Office Christmas Party to repeat at number one for the third consecutive weekend. In the end, estimates have the number one film of the weekend going to Moana, as the Disney princess gets her third straight frame at the top. On Friday, Moana earned $4.1 million, off 37% from last Friday's gross of $6.5 million. That's a solid Friday-to-Friday hold for the Disney feature, as after Toy Story 2's fall from Thanksgiving, it earned $4.1 million on its third Friday and fell 36%. Frozen, the king of Thanksgiving openers, fell 24% over its third Friday, earning $5.1 million. What may surprise you is that Moana finished $2.5 million behind Office Christmas Party on Friday but was still able to come back for the win.
Over the weekend, Moana earned $18.8 million from 3,875 venues, and falls an excellent 33%. Frozen fell 29%, earning $22.6 million (and setting the bar for the future), Tangled earned $14.3 million and declined 34%, and Toy Story 2 earned $18.2 million and dropped 34%. Tangled got to $200 million on the domestic side, and Toy Story 2 reached $245 million. I see Moana dropping in somewhere between those two figures. With the Christmas box office season rapidly approaching, it is hard to really say where Moana could end up. Toy Story 2 earned $50 million between December 20th and January 2nd, and even with Rogue One, I expect a similar result from Moana, but it will have to hold off Universal's Sing. The likely $150 million budgeted animated flick continues to roll out overseas, where it has now earned $94 million.
Finishing in second is Office Christmas Party, which is like a holiday themed Hangover. Star studded, R-rated, and with a strong marketing campaign, I thought this Paramount release was going to be a $25 million plus opener (despite the studio saying $15 million prior to the weekend). However, with real Office Christmas parties and other related holiday events, moviegoing often comes second this time of year. At its Thursday preview, the comedy took in just less than $1 million, which was a couple of hundred thousand better than Sisters, last year's December comedy. Sisters turned a $760,000 preview into a weekend gross of $14 million, but it opened against Star Wars: The Force Awakens.