The final weekend of 2015 is over. And the numbers are still ringing in the ears. Along with one name – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thanks to the Christmas period, and thanks to the Force, J.J. Abrams’ movie dipped by only 38% in its second weekend to earn another $153 million for the weekend in North America. For comparison’s sake, Jurassic World dropped by 49% in its second weekend. But clearly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is beyond comparisons now. It is chartering its own course, one that could go to a new height. The movie has amassed $544.6 million in North America in its 10-day run, a record no doubt. More amazingly, it has earned $1,090 million worldwide, reaching the billion dollar mark faster than any movie ever… in 12 days! Jurassic World had taken a day more. Are we really looking at Star Wars: The Force Awakens eclipsing the $2.8 billion worldwide earnings of Avatar in the near future, a figure that gives me the goosebumps while typing? It’s not a written conclusion certainly, because movies are more front loaded nowadays as compared to 2009 when Avatar had released. Even if Star Wars: The Force Awakens earns more than $2 billion worldwide, it would be a historic feat, achieved only by two movies so far – Avatar and Titanic. I guess we’ll be talking about Star Wars for a few more weeks now!
There were five wide releases this weekend, including one that went from limited to wide. Just for fun’s sake, I added the domestic box-office earnings of the five movies and the total comes to $88 million, about 42% lower than the second weekend earnings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Nonetheless, we still have some winners amongst the new releases. The biggest one being the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg starrer Daddy’s Home. A comedy movie has a place in such a festive mood, even if the critics do not love it (28% on Rottentomatoes). Daddy’s Home grossed $38.8 million for the weekend in North America, which is even better than the $33.8 million opening seen earlier this year for Will Ferrell’s Get Hard and the $33.5 million opening for Ted 2 with Mark Wahlberg. It also means 2015 is a year when Will Ferrell registered two hits, and who can claim to have seen that coming. Daddy’s Home is made on a production budget of $50 million which should be easily recovered by the time the theatrical run ends.
David O. Russell’s latest partnership with Jennifer Lawrence, Joy, opened with $17.5 million which is slightly lower than the $19.1 million opening for American Hustle. The latter though had a bunch of stars in it while Joy is largely being driven by Jennifer Lawrence’s presence. Joy is estimated to have had a production budget of $60 million, and in light of that, the opening does not look too good. American Hustle had amassed $150 million in its domestic theatrical run, thanks to the recognition it received in the award shows. Joy on the other hand has had mixed reviews and might not find itself in the spotlight in the same way. A decent run in the foreign markets would be needed, but I see this movie struggling to recover its costs.
The Will Smith starrer Concussion opened with $11 million, which is neither spectacular nor something to be downbeat about for a $35 million budget movie. This is the smallest opening seen for a Will Smith movie in the 21st century, but that’s still fine for a modest budget movie as compared to the way things went for After Earth. Will Smith seems to be working on building back his reputation post After Earth. Earlier this year, he starred in Focus which earned about $50 million in North America, but twice that much overseas. Concussion will also bank on Smith’s global appeal which could aid this movie’s earnings to go north of $100 million worldwide. That would be the minimum the studio would be hoping for so as to breakeven.
The multi-starrer The Big Short widened its theatrical base to earn $10.5 million from only 1,585 theatres. That gave this movie the second-best earnings per theatre ratio amongst the new releases, only after Daddy’s Home. The Big Short has been made on a budget of $28 million and has earned $16 million so far in North America. The strategy here is clearly to increase the theatres gradually, so that the euphoria over Star Wars ebbs while at the same time it benefits from some award nominations. The reviews are quite good (86% on Rottentomatoes), so the strategy might actually work. The remake of the 1991 movie Point Break, made on a massive production budget of $105 million, tanked with only $10.2 million collected over the weekend. The movie has however made additional $43 million overseas, mainly from China, where it was released in early December; the movie has been co-produced by a Chinese studio after all. Nonetheless, I wonder if anyone else is going to be interested in this remake, and barring a miracle, Point Break is the latest and last flop of the year.
Phew! Too many wide releases to end the year. Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight somehow managed to find 100 theatres to be released in with impressive collections of $4.5 million. We’ll be able to judge the movie better when it opens wide in the coming week. Of the previous week’s releases, Sisters did a terrific job of earning almost as much as it did in the last weekend; its total worldwide collections are at $40 million now, and it should be doing enough from its theatrical run to give some decent return on the studio’s investment. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip dropped by 11% and has earned close to $40 million from North America; its overseas run would eventually decide if a fifth movie of the series is made or not.
As the weekend drew to a close, the domestic box-office collections (year-to-date) stood at $10.89 billion, barely $31 million shy of the record collections of 2013. That will be eclipsed comfortably before the year ends, making 2015 a record year for Hollywood as far as domestic collections are concerned. Globally too, Hollywood has been at its very best with as many as five films earning more than a billion dollars (only one movie achieved this feat in 2014). The biggest global opening was broken twice during the year, first by Jurassic World and then by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has truly been a spectacular year for Hollywood, a much improved performance over the rather tepid 2014. Hopefully, we got bigger and better things in store in the coming year!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($153.5 million; second weekend)
2. Daddy’s Home ($38.8 million)
3. Joy ($17.5 million)
4. Sisters ($13.9 million; second weekend)
5. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip ($12.7 million; second weekend)