Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Barreling Towards ‘Avatar’s’ Record

Star Wars The Force Awakens
Courtesy of Disney

Having vanquished “Titanic” and “Jurassic World,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has set its sights on “Avatar.”

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office leaderboard at a record clip and is now poised to overtake those pointy-eared blue aliens to become the top-grossing film in history. “Avatar” earned $760.5 million during its stateside run, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from “Avatar” early next week.

Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the sixth highest-grossing film in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It should pass “Furious 7” and “Marvel’s The Avengers” to become the fourth-biggest film in the coming days. The film will get a big shot in the arm next week when it premieres in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.

Even as “The Force Awakens” commanded the bulk of box office revenues, a few films managed to profit from the holiday season. Paramount’s “Daddy’s Home,” a comedy about a nerdy stepfather (Will Ferrell) who finds himself outshone by his wife’s first husband (Mark Wahlberg), picked up $29 million in its second weekend, driving the film’s domestic total to $93.7 million.

The Weinstein Company did relatively well after moving up the wide release of “The Hateful Eight” by a week. The revisionist western from Quentin Tarantino racked up $16.2 million to finish in third place. That’s a solid start, though on the lower end for wide-release debuts from the director. For instance, “The Hateful Eight” trails the $30.1 million launch for “Django Unchained” or the $38 million kickoff for “Inglourious Basterds.” It has made $29.6 million since debuting in a limited number of 70mm theaters over Christmas.

Universal’s “Sisters,” a Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pairing, continued to show impressive endurance, snagging fourth place with $12.6 million. The film has made $61.7 million in three weeks of release, putting it ahead of Fey and Poehler’s previous teaming on “Baby Mama,” which made $60.5 million during its run in 2008.

Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” added $11.8 million to its $67.4 million in receipts to round out the top five. The studio also fielded “Joy,” an off-beat biopic about the creator of the Miracle Mop, which earned $10.4 million in its second weekend to bring its total to a robust $38.7 million.

Despite its wonky premise, “The Big Short” appears to be an awards season breakout. The comedy about the financial crisis of 2008 earned $9 million last weekend, bringing its total to just under $33 million. Paramount is releasing the film, which stars Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale as savvy investors who bet against the housing market and won.

Sony’s “Concussion” took in an estimated $8 million, bringing its domestic haul to $25.4 million. Will Smith stars as a crusading doctor who takes on professional football for its indifference to the health and safety of its players. At a cost of $35 million, “Concussion” ranks as a modest bet for Sony, but it has yet to get the traction that “Joy” or “The Big Short” has enjoyed and may need some Oscar love to become a hit for the studio.

“Point Break,” a remake of the 1991 cult favorite about extreme sports enthusiasts who double as bank robbers, is shaping up to be a costly dud. Financed by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., the action adventure made $6.8 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to $22.4 million. That’s a calamitous result for a film that carries an $105 million price tag.

Among Oscar hopefuls, “The Revenant” picked up $450,000 from four theaters, for a hearty per-location average of $112,500. The bloody revenge epic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy and is directed by “Birdman’s” Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Cast and crew drove themselves to the breaking point filming in remote locations — a gamble that cost the film’s backers, New Regency and RatPac-Dune, $135 million to make. So far, “The Revenant” has made $1.3 million. It opens nationwide next weekend.

Paramount’s “Anomalisa” earned $140,000 from four locations for a per-screen average of $35,000. The stop-motion film about a customer service expert in the throes of an emotional crisis was directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. It has earned $215,000 since opening last Wednesday and received critical acclaim.

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  1. Oliver_C says:

    ‘Force Awakens’ may be ‘Fanservice: The Movie’, but ‘Avatar’ was just plain bad (and I say that as a former Cameron fan). For once, the better film is the one that’s doing better.

  2. Lex says:

    I can’t say as I am a big fan of either movie. I like parts of them. I would have to go with TFA over Avatar. I was really rooting for the corporate Miliatry guys agains the blue heathen aliens. :)

    I’ll choose TFA just for the last scene.

  3. John says:

    Good riddance Avatar. I never thought that movie deserved the top spot, especially for so long. It is as derivative as Star Wars TFA as it blatantly steals from other movie plots. Also, if I want to be preached at, I’ll go to church not a movie theater. Time for Avatar to take a second seat, domestically if not world wide which is still a reasonable possibility.

    • jedi77 says:

      Not a chance of beating Avatars worldwide gross.
      It is even questionable if it’ll break $2 billion worldwide.

      The only gas left ind the tank is about $300-350 million in combinced domestic and foreign BO in allready opened territories. And then is has China which can be anywhere between $50 and $250 million.
      But even at $250 million from China (which would be unexpected) it’s still gonna burn out at $2.1 billion.

      • John says:

        You might be right about the international numbers to beat Avatar. But it’s possible Disney might pull a James Cameron and release an Extended Version in the Theaters late in the Star Wars run. it still think Star Wars TFA will have more legs than you and others think.


    There’s lots of great news in the box office report again this weekend. Star Wars: TFA nets a $90 million 3rd weekend, which is mindboggling. Daddy’s Home gets a 2nd $30 million weekend. Sisters and Chipmunks hold steady. And The Big Short is the “awards season breakout” hit, with just a miniscule drop from last week while waiting to expand wide next Friday. On the other side of the picture there are some hard truths waiting to be swallowed. Joy cratered nearly 40% on a holiday weekend in which most films barely lost audience. A 50%+ drop next weekend is not out of the realm of possibility. H8teful got no where near the $25 million forecast most analysts were forecasting, and the $16 million weekend estimate is looking shaky. At three hours long, its story is way too bloated. And the big reveal in the penultimate chapter is a major letdown with its attempt at Hitchcockian cleverness, given that one character knows the setting in flawless detail, and the missing elements intimately. How he misses a detail that should have been obvious to him from the beginning is insulting to the intelligence of the moviegoer. H8teful is probably going to drop like a stone hitting the bottom of a lake next week. But at least it’s not as bad as Point Break, which I walked out of in less than 15 minutes after it started…..absolutely atrocious!

  5. Mr Furious says:

    As much as I hate this piece of crap for being an unoriginal, derivative remake comprised of almost nothing but stolen material, I hate ‘Avatar’ even more for the very same reasons. Actually, I hate every movie Hollywood makes now for those reasons.

    • me says:

      “What has been is what will be,
      and what has been done is what will be done,
      and there is nothing new under the sun.

      Is there a thing of which it is said,
      “See, this is new”?
      It has been already
      in the ages before us.” – Ecclesiastes 1:4-11

      More important, in the words of Han Solo in The Force Awakens (which you would already know had you actually SEEN the movie, which we all know you didn’t) – “Bring it down, bring it down”. You should really just calm down. In the big scheme of things, they’re just movies after all. In other words, lighten up.

      • me says:

        You have no reasoning at all: you assume your opinion is fact, which it isn’t.

        More important, you suffer from the same affliction as the OP: why so ANGRY, over a movie?

      • Yes, that was very deep. Now, considering you just recycled some crap that we all know… can I see a good movie now? There’s where your reasoning falls apart. It should’ve been SO much better when you have that much to work with. There’s so many reasons ep 7 sucks and it’s a damn shame.

    • Khoa says:

      don’t watch it, if you don’t like it!

  6. Husky says:

    Are rankings measured by number of tickets sold or dollars made? It should be tickets sold. Movie prices have continued to rise. The amount The Force Awakens should not be compared to Titanic and Avatar. Ticket prices are higher. Number of tickets sold makes the comparison more comparable.

    • Jonathan says:

      HAHA you don’t know much about the box office, do you? Avatar’s ticket prices were HIGHER because almost all of its tickets were 3D, so no, TFA will beat it easily even adjusted. In fact it will probably outsell Avatar by 20 million tickets.

    • Richard says:

      It’s easy to find adjusted numbers this would have to do 1.5 billion domestically to top the original Star Wars but will easily top the 770 m of Phantom Menace but it would need 1.8 b to top GWTW on the all time movie list ( the silent Birth of a Nation if accurate accounting existed would prob dwarf them all ) . Still these are great numbers for today when there are other options on how to view these movie. Many of the all time champs had to be seen in a theater or not at all. Today you can wait to stream or buy it and watch it in your home theatre set up.

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