This holiday New Year’s box office weekend could see Star Wars: The Force Awakens run past Titanic‘s $658.6 million to become the second-highest domestic grosser of all time and end up at around $700M. It currently sits at No. 5 but has its sights set on No. 1 Avatar, which grossed $760.5M after releasing in 2009. All bets are on that it will topple that six-year record easily sometime next week.
Beyond Star Wars, this holiday will see no new movies in wide release — but will see one big expansion in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. In fact, the Top 10 will make way for The Weinstein Company’s film, which is amassing more screens and heading into digital versions across the nation after a 100-theater run in 70mm. It should be in 1,958 spots by tomorrow, up to 2,264 by Thursday and 2,474 by Friday. Smart distribution plan as the lineup will part like a bloody red sea for Tarantino’s shoot-em-up. It could land in the No. 3 spot behind The Force Awakens and Daddy’s Home (which should have another great weekend).
New Year’s Eve can be a pretty good night for moviegoing, and this year since it falls on a Thursday it can perform like a Friday. While New Year’s Day will likely be a female-driven Friday because of football (maybe good news for Sisters and Joy?), it could go up by 50% because it is, after all, a Friday night. New Year’s Eve is already a little female-driven, but with college playoff games that night, whether it makes it even more so remains to be seen.
The tale of this weekend, beyond Hateful Eight‘s expansion and what kind of new universe Star Wars will fly into, is how the already released pictures released on Christmas — including Concussion and Point Break — will hold in that kind of environment. Midweek business is doing well because kids are still out of school. The ranking as of last night saw Joy falling behind Sisters as Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip holds steady.
On Wednesday, Paramount will release the R-rated stop-motion animation film Anomalisa from Charlie Kaufman in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles to get an Oscar-qualifying run. The studio picked this up for around $4M-$5M during Toronto and it has been getting critical kudos.
Fox’s The Revenant will also stick to its four theaters this weekend and won’t go wide until January 8 when it expects to expand to roughly 2,700 locales. Likewise, The Big Short (which has been playing well on the East and West coasts) rolled out last weekend to a moderate release faster than originally planned. Paramount will expand the film to about 2,500 theaters (more or less), but not until January 8.
According to Rentrak, the biggest New Year’s holiday weekend was in 2009 when the third weekend of Avatar was playing alongside Sherlock Holmes (which opened Christmas Day). Those two pictures dominated the marketplace and the weekend grossed a total of $220M.
“This year, seeing how we have the top two weekends of all time back to back, there is no reason why this couldn’t be one of the biggest New Year’s ever,” said Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst. “Given the momentum of Star Wars and just a slew of films, big and small, that offer great options for moviegoers, this will be a great New Year’s in a traditionally quiet period. Will we get over $220M? It depends on how strong the Force is and how the Hateful Eight expansion will perform.”