January 2017 Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

February 11, 2017

That's right. The ladies rule January.

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Think fast! What’s the most interesting month for movie box office! If you said January, you are wrong! Unless Sean Spicer said it, in which case it is absolutely true and believing otherwise is a betrayal of patriotism. January is often the month where big holiday blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls reap the biggest rewards, although you can get the occasional surprise like American Sniper (even if that technically opened in December). This year is no different, as 2017 starts off with most people seeing films that opened last year.

Continuing a trend that will likely persist until movies die, Star Wars takes the top spot in January for the second year in a row. Rogue One opened in mid-December, but still took the crown for highest domestic earnings in January, although not nearly by the same margin as The Force Awakens. Rogue One earned $112.8 million this month, bringing its domestic total up to $521 million. For comparison, The Force Awakens made over $243 million last January. Rogue One will probably squeak by The Dark Knight to become the sixth biggest domestic earner of all-time sometime in February.

Second place goes to Sing, another holdover from December, and it has quietly made a lot more money than you think it has. Quietly, that is, unless you have young children. In January it added $105.5 million to its stash, bringing its domestic total to $258 million, which is more Despicable Me earned back in 2010. Cue Minions Singing crossover. Ow, my ears.


Third goes to Hidden Figures, a nice little success story, where a PG-rated film showed it could play with the big boys (there must have been no swearing in the 1960s). The film about three black mathematicians proving their worth at NASA has shown its own mettle, picking up $106.8 million after being on top for two weekends. It actually opened in limited release in December, but didn’t go wide until January, so it’s really the top opener for the month. It is still chugging along and will probably be one of the more notable success stories for 2017, especially if it takes home some Oscar gold.

Fourth goes to Split, which provided a typical M. Night Shyamalan twist in actually being well reviewed and making a decent amount of money. Actually, the real twist is that no matter to whom it occurs, when someone makes a comeback in Hollywood it is quite an achievement (see Ben Affleck, known mostly as an actor, yet an Oscar winner for writing and producing). Despite only being out for the last 11 days of the month, it has accrued over $81.1 million and stayed at the top of the box office through February 9th.

La La Land, the favorite to win the Best Picture Oscar, has also secured quite a haul, which is commendable given that it is a musical and that its subject matter is Hollywood itself (not a topic known for large box office returns). $78 million gives it the fifth highest total for the month and brings its domestic total over $108 million. I guess a few stars are shining on this film… Given the likelihood that La La Land could earn double digit Oscar statues, this film could keep going for a couple of months. The last musical best picture winner, Chicago, finished with $170 million, so this one could reach that same plateau. The highest grossing musical of all time is actually Grease, with $188 million way back in 1978; could La La Land top the chart?

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