Box Office: Star Wars Awakens Theaters With Historic $238 Million Weekend

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When Jurassic World set a new all-time record for an opening weekend, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige sent out a congratulatory tweet with an image of Chris Pratt riding a T-Rex bareback with the Rex holding Thor’s hammer. Now I’m wondering what Universal’s response will be now that Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Pictures have obliterated that record with an estimated $238 million opening. (Jurassic World can still claim a bigger worldwide opening with $524.9 million vs. $517 million – if that number holds).

To put the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens into perspective when compared to other films that were released in 2015…

1) The comedies Spy and Trainwreck made roughly $110 million domestic during their theatrical runs. Star Wars did that (and a little more) in a single day.

2) Before the release of The Force Awakens only eight films in 2015 made over $200 million.

3) The estimated three-day total is enough to make the seventh episode of Star Wars the seventh-highest grossing movie of the year.

4) It took The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 twenty-two days to gross $236.4 million. Again, Star Wars: The Force Awakens accomplished this in three days when including the box office take from Thursday night.

Both Scott Sawitz and myself had similar ratings about the film but offer different commentary. His was more with regards to J.J. Abrams’s grasp of the the mythos and an understanding of what made the original trilogy so magical (something George Lucas lost sight of with those prequels). My review was about tempering expectations due to hype and the fact that the story hits familiar beats but leaving the audience wanting more, which is the best you can hope for in movies inspired by serials from the 1930s.

Believe it or not, there were other new releases besides Star Wars this weekend. To counter, 20th Century Fox (the studio that released the other six Star Wars films) offered a third Alvin and the Chipmunks movie subtitled The Road Chip. I have seriously not seen one trailer or TV spot advertising this and I am at a loss why schedule a movie intended for families the same weekend that you have a gigantic space opera that is chock full of parenting issues and growing pains — perfect family bonding!

The other new release was the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy Sisters. Their first on-screen collaboration since 2007’s Baby Mama, these two make the female equivalent to Neighbors, but aside from their chemistry and a few laughs (including WWE superstar John Cena making the most of his screen time as a drug dealer that’s a bit of a softy) the comedy is hit or miss.

The release of The Force Awakens finally knocked The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 off its No. 1 perch as it dropped to No. 4 with $5.65 million.

Creed finally rope-a-doped The Good Dinosaur and looks to be on its way to surpassing Pixar’s first true misfire release. It is likely that this will be the first Pixar movie to lose a substantial amount of money as domestic and worldwide numbers are about even.

Speaking of losing money, Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 with $3.46 million. Its theater screen remained the same but the arrival of Star Wars saw its audience deplete by 68.7%.

Outside of the top ten, studios and their awards contenders are competing for eyes. But Spotlight and Brooklyn, two films that were part of the top 10 discussion the past few weeks, are losing screens, while Focus Features and Fox Searchlight are expanding its films The Danish Girl and Youth. Sony Pictures Classics debuted the frontrunner for the best foreign film of 2015, Son of Saul on three screens where it made $38,891.

Don’t look for anything in the next few weeks that will unseat Star Wars: The Force Awakens from being No. 1. It may be there well into February unless there’s a groundswell of support to see Ride Along 2 (January 15th) or Kung Fu Panda 3 (January 29th). Methinks not.

Top 10 below.

01. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $238 Million
02. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip – $14.4 Million
03. Sisters – $13.4 Million
04. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – $5.65 Million ($254.4m)
05. Creed – $5 Million ($87.9m)
06. The Good Dinosaur – $4.2 Million ($96.5m)
07. Krampus – $3.78 Million ($34.8m)
08. In the Heart of the Sea – $3.46 Million ($18.6m)
09. Dilwale – $1.875 Million
10. Bajirao Mastani – $1.66 Million

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