‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ to Obliterate Christmas Box Office

Star Wars box office
Courtesy of Disney

The Christmas box office champion has already been crowned.

That “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will dominate movie theaters for a second straight weekend is a foregone conclusion. After all, the seventh film in the sci-fi franchise has passed from hit into cultural phenomenon. The question is how much money it will make as moviegoers flood multiplexes during one of the most lucrative times of year for Hollywood studios.

There’s a wide range of predictions. It is conceivable that “The Force Awakens” could pull in anywhere from $140 million to $180 million in its second weekend — a massive spread, but a testament to how difficult it is to assess how firmly the latest tale of Jedi Knights has burrowed into the zeitgeist. Either would be an impressive hold after a weekend that saw “The Force Awakens” torch records with its $248 million domestic launch. There’s a reason that some box office sages have been predicting the film has “Avatar” and its $2.8 billion global haul in its sights.

But “The Force Awakens” isn’t the only game in town. Paramount will reunite Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in “Daddy’s Home.” The actors successfully partnered on 2010’s “The Other Guys,” and this latest entry finds them back in their sweet spot — Ferrell plays a dweeby step-father, while Wahlberg is the rebellious, hog-riding biological father. The film cost $50 million to make and is on pace to pull in between $20 million to $22 million when it premieres Friday across 3,200 locations.

Warner Bros. and Alcon will counter with a remake of the 1991 cult hit “Point Break,” that finds an FBI agent (Luke Bracey) trying to infiltrate a group of extreme sports enthusiasts/bank robbers. The film carries an $105 million price tag and is projected to make $15 million to $17 million when it kicks off across 2,910 locations.

Fox will test Jennifer Lawrence’s star power, teaming “The Hunger Games” actress with David O. Russell — the filmmaker who guided her to Oscar glory in “Silver Linings Playbook” — for “Joy,” a shaggy biopic about the mogul behind the Miracle Mop. A debut in the $10 million to $12 million range seems plausible when “Joy” hits 2,896 locations. It cost $60 million to make.

“Joy” is expected to be a major player when Oscar nominations are announced next month. It won’t be the only awards hopeful entering the marketplace. Sony is fielding “Concussion,” a social issue drama with Will Smith that takes on the NFL for its alleged cover-up of the long-term consequences of traumatic brain injuries on football players. The film cost $35 million to produce and will test America’s appetite for having its regular Sunday afternoon pastime placed in the hot seat. It is expected to debut to between $8 million to $10 million when it hits 2,820 locations.

With “Concussion” taking the fight to football, “The Big Short” will square off against Wall Street. The $28 million adaptation of Michael Lewis’ best-selling chronicle of a few Cassandras who foretold the coming financial collapse has been a hit in limited release. Paramount will move the comic tale from eight venues to 1,600 locations beginning Wednesday. The three-day estimate is $8 million and the five-day projection is $10 million. The plan is to add theaters on Jan. 8.

In addition to “The Force Awakens,” these films will feel pressure from holdovers such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” and “Sisters,” which should do $14 million and $10 million, respectively.

Among limited releases, the Weinstein Company is orchestrating a road-show for Quentin Tarantino’s blood-soaked “The Hateful Eight.” The spaghetti western will debut in 70mm projection, which cinephiles argue offers, brighter, cleaner images, in 100 theaters where it will likely generate between $3 million to $3.5 million.

Matching “The Hateful Eight” body bag for body bag is Fox’s “The Revenant.” The revenge drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a guide who is left for dead after a bear attack. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s drive to film the picture in remote locations and shoot in natural light pushed the production over budget, with costs reportedly hitting $135 million. It bows in four locations this Christmas before expanding next month.

Exhibitors are feeling more festive. The return of the “Star Wars” crew and the influx of new holiday contenders should result in crowded theaters. It’s a welcome rebound after a fall that saw critically lauded films like “Steve Jobs” sputter out and heavily-anticipated sequels such as “Spectre” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2” fail to match previous films in their franchises.

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  1. scotfourowls says:

    Joy’s a funny, poignant, relationship-driven vehicle for its director and stars. Jennifer Lawrence had me permanently at Winter’s Bone and only gets better. Cooper is wonderful too in this film. Don’t know why the haters for a grownups’ movie like Joy. Also it’s Christmas. Those theocrats who do not want to separate church and state, theocratically opposed to the U S.Constitution (e.g., the marriage license clerk in KY who refused to follow the U. S. Supreme Court ruling) — and those theocrats who sadly found Jennifer Lawrence’s joke about theocrats with pitchforks sufficient to warrant a campaign dissing her online — might instead find something else to do in the spirit of the season. She never bashed Christians of my non-theocratic type, and to tar her with that brush is a lie, while to appreciate her talent is a joy.

  2. Interesting observation:
    Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg movie budget
    Will Smith’s movie budget 35 mill
    Brad Pitt-Ryan Gosling-Christian Bale-Steve Carell movie budget 28 mil
    Tina Fey-Amy Poehler movie budget 30 mill
    BUT untested for original and non-franchises movie Jennifer Lawrence got 60(!!!) mil. with 15 mil salary for herself. LOL! Poor Megan Ellison who financed this David O. Russell’s MESS will loose her money ///
    P.S. And there is NO WAY this JOY FLOP with rotten rewiews on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes will be a player at Oscar nominations. Field already overcrowded with actually GREAT movies with 90%++ rating and impressive box-office. There is no place for some critical and commercial turkey..///

  3. Bren says:

    Daddy’s Home looks awful. I’m sick of seeing those obnoxiously annoying TV spots.

  4. Blakely says:

    How is Joy expected to be a major player in the Oscars this year? The reviews are middling-to-terrible, and that includes the one from Variety. It’s at 56 on metscritic and holding onto a “fresh” rotten tomato rating by a thred. Lawrence may have a chance, but being locked out at SAG is a bad sign when the FYC screeners went out as easily as they did. I’m so confused why that was even added to this piece–you guys know it’s ok to not have to try and appease fans by building false hope, right? Not everything DOR has to be dripping with promise, ffs. As for box office, not one of the headlining stars of Joy was the reason I saw American Hustle 3 times, so when you say testament to jlaw’s star power, you are absolutely correct. After Bradley coopers god awful year, we at least already know his.

  5. Movie with 60 mil budget should open in range 25 mill minimum… 10-12 mil. opening translated into 36-38 mil domestic box-office – almost twice less than budget. And where is so called Jennifer Lawrence power?? Isn’t her fans screams everywhere that she is the biggest female movie star and box-office draw??? Even Anne Hathaway can open The Intern with 18 mil opening in september, while Christmas weekend one of the most lucrative… Last year Angelina Jolie movie UNBROKEN with budget 65(!) mil made in first Christmas day 16 mill plus 30mil more for the week-end. But Great and Powerful JLAW doing 10-12mill for whole three holiday weekend. How mighty has fallen…

  6. JOY budget 60 mill????? For WHAT??? I know JLaw salary for this 15 mill but where is rest money?? With opening 10-12mill talk – about flop ///

  7. harry georgatos says:

    The trailer to POINT BREAK looks more of a straight to DVD knockoff then a theatrical release. $100 million dollar budget on a inferior film to the original. This has been already released in China and will depend on international ticket sales to break even. No top name stars in this reboot. If only Tony Scott was alive. Tony Scott would have been the perfect packaging for this reboot.

    Somehow I suspect the reboot will find a strong audience on home entertainment then cinemas with this movie.

  8. loco73 says:

    How exactly was “The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2” a failure? Holly shit! What exactly classifies as a success these days?!

    • david says:

      No one said it was a failure. What the article said is that it failed to match previous films in the franchise. Which is true.

  9. Lewis says:

    Point Break will be another box office bomb for Warner Bros. $100 MILLION BUDGET?? Smh…

  10. Kyle Lauren says:

    They changed JOHNNY UTAH’s name in the Point Break remake?

    BLASPHEMY! That’s the coolest name ever. FFS, radio DJs across America used it as their online pseudonym (99.9 The Buzz in Vermont had one).

  11. LOL says:

    America loves weaning on the proverbial teat of infantile nostalgia.

  12. Marie says:

    “The film carries an $105 million price tag and is projected to make $15 million to $17 million ”

    That’s bad. Why the hell was this movie green lighted with such a high budget!?

  13. Priam says:

    Doesn’t hurt that 4 other major movies have been leaked illegally. Seems like a strange coincidence that these massive leaks came out as the same time as Star Wars. Seems like someone from Disney wanted to eliminate some of the competition.

  14. snowyphile says:

    A bigger haul than Sleeping-Beauty Land.

  15. Bill B. says:

    I certainly could be wrong, but I expect Point Break to fail badly.

  16. Joe says:

    I am curious how a family comedy like “The Other Guys” could possibly cost $50M to make.

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