‘Tis the season for over-imbibing in front of the boss. With that in mind, “Office Christmas Party” will try to get moviegoers into the holiday spirit when it opens this Friday.
The raunchy comedy is expected to make between $13 million and $15 million over its first weekend in theaters, a solid start for a relatively inexpensive film. However, that won’t be a big enough opening to topple Disney’s “Moana” from its throne. The animated hit should post the highest ticket sales for the third consecutive weekend, racking up $18 million.
Think of this weekend as a throat clearing of sorts before the jedi return in force. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” touches down on Dec. 16 and is expected to dominate the landscape through Christmas and beyond. The prequel/spinoff/corporate happening, is projected to make more than $130 million when it debuts next week. That would represent a record launch for December were it not for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which gobbled up all the high-water marks when it kicked off to $248 million.
“Office Christmas Party” follows a group of workers who put on an epic party in an attempt to persuade the company CEO from closing their branch. The ensemble cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, and Courtney B. Vance, with Josh Gordon and Will Speck (“Blades of Glory”) directing. Paramount, DreamWorks, and Reliance backed the $45 million production. The studios are hoping that the very R-rated film plays like “Sisters,” the Amy Poehler and Tina Fey comedy that opened to $13.9 million, but stuck around for weeks, topping out at $87 million domestically. Paramount could use a victory. The studio scored with “Arrival,” an alien invasion thriller, but is still trying to shake off flops such as “Allied,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and “Zoolander 2.”
After screening in a few select cities, EuropaCorp will push “Miss Sloane” into 1,600 locations where it is expect to do $5 million worth of business. The drama about a lobbyist who takes on the firearms industry has received strong reviews for Jessica Chastain’s lead performance as a chilly Beltway player, but hasn’t been a major factor in the awards race so far. It cost $13 million to produce.
In limited release, Lionsgate will debut “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s musical ode to Los Angeles, in five New York and Los Angeles theaters. The picture will expand nationally later this month. It is expected to be a major awards contender. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone update Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in this one.
A number of critical favorites will expand this weekend, including “Nocturnal Animals,” a brooding Tom Ford thriller, and “Jackie,” a dissection of Jacqueline Kennedy’s role in planning her husband’s funeral. The hope for everyone is that they can establish a foothold and withstand the coming “Rogue One” tsunami.