Rogue One Powers Up the Holiday Box Office
By John Hamann
December 18, 2016
With regards to marketing, Disney teamed with strong promotional partners across the globe as per usual, but domestically, the TV ad campaign was second to none. One could see the pace of the marketing pick up as the release date approached, starting with quiet introspective ads, and finishing with highly paced, high octane spots that got fans very interested. Once again, Disney spared no expense making Rogue One a success, and again Bob Iger's expensive acquisitions look like no-brainers.
Finishing about $140 million behind Disney's Rogue One is Disney's Moana, as the Mouse House dominates this weekend, owning the top two and finishing with three films in the top ten. The question had to be asked: Would Rogue One cannibalize the box office gross of Moana? Given that the toon had already brought in $150 million at the domestic box office before the Star Wars film hit, that cannibalization amount is reduced, and Moana should play strongly over the holidays. This weekend, the Walt Disney Animation release earned another $11.7 million, and fell 37% versus Rogue One. To date, Moana has earned $161.9 million at the domestic box office and $118 million overseas. Moana will earn more than $200 million domestic, but the question is how will it play against Universal and Illumination Entertainment's Sing, which opens next weekend.
Paramount's Office Christmas Party had nothing in common with Rogue One whatsoever, but still got crushed considering its holiday theme. Office Christmas Party earned $8.5 million in its second frame, dropping a large 50% compared to last weekend. With Disney dominating the top two, and some smaller films with huge venue averages taking up some bigger venues, the squeeze happens. Films like Office Christmas Party get pushed to the smaller venues. The comedy cost Paramount $45 million to make, and has a gross to date of $31.5 million. Add $20 million from overseas, and Office Christmas Party has at least matched its production budget globally. Still, it will need to earn a lot over the next 10 days or the studio will be wearing the marketing cost.
Due to the size of our first opener, the second debuting film, Collateral Beauty, barely made a blip on the box office radar and is just another knock for the career of Will Smith. The drama opened on Friday with a fourth place finish of only $2.4 million, dooming this film to open to less than $10 million despite being out to more than 3,000 screens. Over the weekend, the Will Smith starrer could only find $7 million, putting it on the list of the top 25 worst debuts for a film opening on more than 3,000 screens. You can't blame Rogue One for this ugliness, as the two films are about as far apart as it gets in terms of demographics. So what happened?
The train wreck that is Collateral Beauty happened for a number of reasons. First, it's the Christmas season, and this film is about a dad trying to recover from the death of his daughter, which doesn't make this sound like a good time at the movies, no matter what happens. Second, this appears to be Oscar bait, considering the cast of Oscar winners and nominees that includes Smith, Helen Mirren and Ed Norton, but Collateral Beauty earned only a 14% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes. The Cinemascore wasn't terrible at A-; however, the film is the type of manipulative weeper that attracts these kind of scores. The only good news for Collateral Beauty is the budget, as the production cost came in at a reasonable $36 million, with the stars likely seeing a backend kind of deal. It will be interesting to see how the Christmas box office season affects this one, as the crazy season can transform a dud into a minor hit, so let's wait and see what happens next weekend.