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

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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