starwarsfeature

What Will You Be Watching?
“Star Wars” or the Other Six New Films?

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

With its record-breaking beginning, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is overshadowing everything in the box office galaxy, and will continue to perform multiplex magic this weekend, despite six films opening and/or expanding into wide release.

No surprise that a half dozen contenders are jockeying for pole position in the period between Christmas and New Year’s, as it’s the most lucrative of the season for Hollywood, and no truer is that than this year, when “The Force Awakens” is so strong that records are falling on the daily.

The two biggest box office achievements for “The Force Awakens” were best-opening day domestically ($247.9M) and worldwide ($528.9M), and now J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi saga has its eyes set on the grand-daddy of them all, “Avatar,” and its global tally of $2.7B.

Can it really reach that milestone? It’s quite possible, as “The Force Awakens” has already blasted up $689M as of Tuesday–not even a week into release.

So far, in the annals of box office history, only James Cameron has ever crossed the $2B+ mark, achieving the plateau twice, first with “Titanic” ($2.1B) and then with the blue folks of Pandora, the Na’vi.

The closest any film has been to $2B since is this summer’s “Jurassic World,” which totaled $1.6B. However, with Universal’s records heading towards mass extinction, it’s a pretty easy guess to say that “Star Wars” will end up being the top grossing film of 2015.

So, what happens in weekend #2? In years past, films have had pretty amazing holds leading up to Christmas weekend, so expect some out-of-this-world numbers for “The Force Awakens.” Are we talking about $200M? Probably not. That would be a dip of just -19%, but something like $175M is entirely possible.

No other film has a chance in hell at $200M+, heck, even $20M+ will be an achievement considering all the competition in multiplexes. The best shot at box office glory will be the tag-team of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the PG-13 comedy from Paramount, “Daddy’s Home.”

Ferrell and Wahlberg have teamed up before in “The Other Guys,” which debuted with $35M in August 2010. Sean Anders (writer of “We’re the Millers”) directs the $50M film, which is a lot funnier than advertised. It’s a classic Ferrell comedy, that should see upwards of $20M in 3,271 venues.

Also in the mix is Warner’s expensive remake of the 1991 action pic, “Point Break,” which carries a price tag of $100M+, has no stars and will likely debut with a lackluster $16M in 2,910 theaters.

That said, this is the one film that could surprise as the original wasn’t really a classic by any means. It was well-liked, for sure, but this new spin looks decent enough, unlike the recent reboots of “Footloose” and “Vacation.”

Director David O. Russell returns to laurel-land with the R-rated drama, “Joy,” starring his muses, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper…in a more limited role. While “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” were sure-fire box office hits and serious awards contenders, “Joy” probably won’t live up to the lofty expectations Fox has for it, as he misfires with a slight story getting a grandiose treatment.

The $60M film is in 2,846 theaters and didn’t receive an exclusive or limited release leading up to its debut, which is a sign that Fox realizes this likely won’t get the recognition or box office fervor of his last three films, including 2010’s “The Fighter,” which combined with “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” were a master class in filmmaking.

Hey, he’s allowed a misstep. It’s not that “Joy” is without merit–the performances are top notch.  However, it’s a minor tale that doesn’t really deserve such a complex stage, especially since it features a cause that isn’t all that compelling and relies on a heroine that has the depth of a kiddie pool. That simply won’t play for the multiplex masses. Expect a moderate debut of $12M this weekend.

And then we have Will Smith in the $35M PG-13 drama, “Concussion.” Hey, there’s no denying Smith can act: we’ve all known that for some time; it’s just that he hasn’t challenged himself to flex those muscles lately, relying on him playing Big Willy, instead.

Truth is, he isn’t the draw he once was, and Sony really dropped the ball announcing that all NFL players and their families could attend the film for free?! Really? Multi-millionaires can go free? How about high school football players and their families? Or college? Those are the folks who might really learn something from this cautionary tale. Expect $8M over the weekend, as it kicks off in 2,841 theaters.

Paramount’s “The Big Short” also goes wide after two weeks of exclusive release. Adam McKay’s real-life dramedy will likely score $8M in 1,585 theaters and likely pick up awards steam in the weeks to come. Could become a box office success too, as reviews have been stellar.

In limited release, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” rides into the great wide open in 70mm at 100 venues on Christmas Day. Should hang upwards of $3M-$4M on the charts, and have a long successful run for Weinstein Co., which desperately needs a hit. Enter: QT.

And in exclusive release, Fox’s “The Revenant” rides into 4 theaters, before its nationwide release on January 8. Expect this one to be a huge Oscar contender, as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s beautiful, but flawed revenge tale, set in the 1820s, will likely impress voters.

Finding box office glory may be a bit rough for this R-rated drama; however, powerhouse performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy will certainly pique audiences’ interest.

Last year Inarritu’s “Birdman” took home the Best Picture Oscar; however, “Spotlight” seems to have the inside track right now. We’ll see if public opinion can sway the tide towards “The Revenant”; however, as poetically realistic as it is, it’s also extremely brutal to watch. Bring your hand warmers…as well as your barf bag.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $178M
  2. Daddy’s Home – $20M
  3. Point Break – $14M
  4. Alvin: Road Chip – $13M
  5. Joy – $12M

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: Paramount’s “Everybody Wants Some” (April 15, 2016)

The spiritual sequel to Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused.” That’s all you needed to say, baby. For Paramount’s sake, though, let’s hope it does better than Linklater’s 1993 release, which grossed just $8M. With the success of “Boy,” no doubt this will be a solid ground-rule double.

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Poster Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm; Poster Design by BLT

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.