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Box Office: ‘Force Awakens’ Rockets Toward ‘Avatar’s’ All-Time Domestic Record

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has begun 2016 the same way it closed out 2015: it’s making a killing at the box office. The seventh chapter in the space opera nabbed $34 million on Friday, putting its domestic cume on track for close to $750 million by the end of the holiday weekend.

Unspooling in 4,134 locations, “Force Awakens” should pull in north of $95 million during its third weekend of release. Unsurprisingly, it’s far and away the most popular title at multiplexes this holiday, distantly trailed by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s comedy “Daddy’s Home” and Quentin Tarantino’s latest Western “The Hateful Eight.” Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver star in the J.J. Abrams-directed Disney-Lucasfilm adventure.

“Force Awakens” has already overtaken domestic box office leaders “Titanic” (previously No. 2 with $658.7 million) and “Jurassic World” (formerly No. 3 with $652 million). It’s expected to exceed “Avatar’s” record of $760.5 million early next week, with some expecting the win as early as Monday.

“Star Wars” fans might have found themselves conflicted by the recent media storm over series creator George Lucas telling Charlie Rose that he sold the series to “white slavers.” He quickly backpedaled, insisting that “Disney is doing an incredible job of taking care of and expanding the franchise,” he said. “I rarely go out with statements to clarify my feelings but I feel it is important to make it clear that I am thrilled that Disney has the franchise and is moving it in such exciting directions in film, television and the parks.”

Beyond “Force Awakens,” moviegoers are warming to “Daddy’s Home,” which pulled in $11.5 million on Friday in 3,342 locations. The Paramount comedy should end its second weekend with a three-day total approaching $30 million for a domestic total of up to $94 million.

“The Hateful Eight” is the third-most popular release over the holiday weekend, netting $6.4 million on Friday from 2,474 locations. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in the snowy Weinstein Co. release.

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s Universal comedy “Sisters” is close behind, totaling close to $5 million on New Year’s day and tracking for a weekend haul of more than $12 million. The R-rated pic, which follows two grown-up sisters throwing one last raging party at their childhood home, is playing in 2,978 locations.

Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” is holding on in fifth place, generating a Friday total over $4 million in 3,474 locations. The animated sequel should wrap up the weekend with a three-day total close to $12 million.

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