Weekend Box Office: Well, Look Who Woke Up

As everyone expected, ‘Star Wars’ crushed the competition at the box office this weekend. It also shattered 12 opening records in the process.

This summer, ‘Jurassic World‘ set the record for all-time highest-grossing domestic opening with $208.8 million. That was short-lived. The bar has now been raised to nearly unreachable heights. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ debuted to $238 million (domestically) this weekend. The records for Thursday night previews, Friday showings, three-day weekend, domestic IMAX and international IMAX were among those broken. It was the quickest movie to reach $100 million and the highest-grossing December movie of all time. At 4,134 locations, it set a per-screen average of $57,571 – a new high for a nationwide release. And it did all that in just three days. If it continues at this pace, ‘Episode VII’ is estimated to bow with approximately $800 million in domestic revenue, which would also be a new domestic high.

While the overseas numbers were still massive, ‘The Force Awakens’ couldn’t topple those set by ‘Jurassic World’. The international kick-off of ‘Jurassic World’ resulted in $316.1 million, but ‘Episode VII’ only wrangled $279 million. Many territorial records were broken along the way, but the delayed opening in China (slated for January 9th, 2016) is the assumed to be the reason for the film’s inability to set a new international high.

Continuing to show the franchise’s decline in appeal, ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip‘ opened much lower than its predecessors. Far behind ‘Star Wars’, the Chipmunks squeaked into second place with $14.4 million. From 3,653 locations, that total and the $3,942 per-screen average may come across as a huge hit for Fox. With no other kids’ movies on the horizon, the holdover through the holidays is expected to be decent.

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s reunion flick ‘Sisters‘ opened in third place with to a so-so $13.4 million. Playing on nearly 3,000 screens, the R-rated comedy saw a $4,531 per-screen average. Estimates signal that it should have long legs and bow around the $75 million mark, but I don’t see the math adding up – especially considering the poor quality of the movie.

In its fifth week, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2‘ was booted from the top spot by ‘Star Wars’. Its 50% drop and $5.6 million weekend bumped it down into the #4 spot. To date, the franchise finale has grossed $254.4 million domestically and $341.1 million overseas. It’s expected to cross the worldwide $600 million mark over this Christmas week.

Four-week-old ‘Creed‘ rounded out the Top 5 with an additional $5 million. To date, the $35 million ‘Rocky’ spin-off has earned $87.9 million domestically and $7.6 million overseas.

In its second week, Ron Howard’s ‘In the Heart of the Sea‘ was pulled under and drowned. The Moby Dick flick fell a gigantic 69% in attendance, grossed $3.4 million ($1,117 per screen) and dropped into eighth place. The film’s domestic total sits at $18.6 million and isn’t likely to get much higher than that. Overseas, it has made $49.6 million, but that’s not enough to keep it afloat.

Two Bollywood titles boldly opened against ‘Star Wars’ and impressively found themselves in the Top 10. ‘Diwale‘ and ‘Bajirao Mastani‘ wound up in the #9 and 10 spots respectively, with $1,875,000 and $1,660,000.

Sony Pictures Classics’ front-runner in the foreign language Oscar category, ‘Son of Saul‘, had a great limited opening. From just three locations, the Hungarian concentration camp film earned $38,891 and a per-screen average of $12,964.

Weekend numbers for ‘Extraction’ have yet to be announced.

Top 10:

1. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (Buena Vista) – $238,000,000

2. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’ (Fox) – $14,400,000

3. ‘Sisters’ (Universal) – $13,420,000

4. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2’ (Lionsgate) – $5,650,000

5. ‘Creed’ (New Line) – $5,085,000

6. ‘The Good Dinosaur’ (Buena Vista) – $4,232,000

7. ‘Krampus’ (Universal) – $3,780,000

8. ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ (Warner Bros.) – $3,465,000

9. ‘Diwale’ (UTV) – $1,875,000

10. ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (Eros) – $1,660,000


  1. Honestly, for all of the records to be broken, its a shame that it didnt get the worldwide record all because they didnt release in China at the same time, Jurassic World did. Star Wars should own all the records and they could have had they not delayed China’s release until January…..oh well not much you can do now 😉

    • William Henley

      I have friends in China who are wondering if they can avoid spoilers until January 9th. They say the delay on this movie is really stupid, because it is just going to drive up the sale of bootlegs

    • NJScorpio

      These record breaking numbers really don’t mean much to me anymore, as inflation and premium screenings (along with other factors) result in the latest blockbuster dethroning a film that came out just a year or so prior.

      If you REALLY wanted to know how big a hit a movie is, this is what I’d do…

      Take the total in ticket sales for all movies for the weekend before Christmas. Compare that to the past 8 weeks. Now, look at the past few weekends-before-Christmases, along with their 8 weeks prior. Relatively , is the percentage jump from the two months prior to the weekend before Christmas higher for this year, or is in in keeping with the average amongst the prior years?

      So you see there is a spike this year…next figure out the percentage of those sales that went to Star Wars….and in prior years, see what percentage of those sales went to that week’s major new release. This way you also see what percentage was spent on films that are no longer new releases, are not major releases.

      So if you see that the money spent on non-new-release-blockbusters prior weekends-before-Christmases remains roughly the same, but there is a spike in relatively money spent on Star Wars compared to what was spent on prior holiday releases would show you how big a hit it is.

      Or something like that.

    • Deaditelord

      Well it appears that Disney underestimated total grosses for The Force Awakens and that the movie will set an international record with ticket sales at or above $528 million. So there’s that.

  2. Deaditelord

    I wonder how many of the tickets purchased for Star Wars were from scalpers. The showing I went to was supposedly sold out according to the seating chart, but there was a surprising number of empty seats available. I ended up going from a crappy seat in the first row to a great seat in the middle row because half those seats were empty.

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