“Office Christmas Party” is heading for a respectable $15 million opening weekend at 3,210 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday.
The raucous R-rated comedy looks likely to finish in second just behind Disney’s third weekend of “Moana,” which should take in somewhere in the $15 million to $16 million range in what will be one of the closest box office contests this year.
Overall business will be moderate as moviegoers await the Dec. 16 opening of Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” amid expectations of any opening weekend of more than $130 million.
“Office Christmas Party” took in $950,0000 in preview showings Thursday night at 2,429 North American locations — 23% stronger than the $769,000 preview number for the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler party comedy “Sisters” a year ago. “Sisters” grossed $13.9 million on its opening weekend, then showed impressive traction throughout the holidays for an $87 million domestic total.
“Office Christmas Party” follows a group of workers who organize an epic party in a desperate attempt to prevent the no-fun CEO — played by Jennifer Aniston — from closing the Chicago branch. The ensemble cast includes Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Olivia Munn, Rob Corddry, Kate McKinnon and Courtney B. Vance, with Josh Gordon and Will Speck directing.
DreamWorks and Reliance backed the $45 million production, which has drawn mixed reviews with a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Office Christmas Party” should take in about $5 million on Friday, besting “Moana” but the animated comedy will probably come out on top, thanks to support from children and families. “Moana,” with Dwayne Johnson voicing the character of demigod Maui, should top the $140 million domestic mark by the end of the weekend.
Warner Bros.’ fourth weekend of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” should finish third with about $10 million. That should push the Harry Potter spinoff to around $200 million domestically.
Paramount’s fifth weekend of sci-fier “Arrival” will probably come in fourth with about $6 million, pushing it past the $80 million mark domestically. The studio’s third weekend of Brad Pitt’s World War II thriller “Allied” will follow in fifth with about $5 million to move into the $35 million range for its U.S. total.
EuropaCorp’s expansion of Jessica Chastain’s thriller “Miss Sloane” to 1,598 theaters appears to be showing little traction with early estimates in the $3 million range for the weekend.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with comScore, noted that the weekend is the first of the final four weekends of 2016 in a period that will determine if this year surpasses last year’s record-setting gross of $11.12 billion. Year-to-date box office has hit $10.3 billion, 3.5% ahead of the same point last year, but last year’s final 14 days totaled $1 billion, led by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” taking in $652 million.