This week, five new wide releases will jump into the fray to battle Disney’s monolith Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. But instead of movies falling off the marquee, domestic tickets sales by the middle of next week will bust past the $11 billion mark.
According to early ComScore projections, whether 2016 beats 2015’s all-time record of $11.1B will go go down to the wire and should happen occur closer to New Year’s Day weekend. Currently, 2016 is shaping to do $11.275B for the calendar year, besting last year by 1.5%.
Unlike last year, when Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens took a majority of the air out of the overall marketplace with a 14-day gross of $652M, the best Christmas gift distributors are receiving this year is that the wealth will be spread around. This is thanks to the fact that Rogue One is set to do 45% less business than Force Awakens’ Christmas four-day of $180.56M, or $100M over the December 23-26 frame, leaving enough water in the pond for everyone. Many believe the Gareth Edwards-directed Rogue One has the potential to see a near Titanic-size domestic final of $600M.
Illumination/Universal’s animated animal-jukebox musical Sing is expected to come up strong with $70M in six days thanks to the studio beating the drum continually since its Toronto Film Festival premiere, with mini-concerts and screenings to stoke awards-season voters. Pic opens tonight at 6 PM at 2,275 venues before expanding to 4,022 — the fourth-widest opening ever for December after Rogue One, Force Awakens, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Sing currently has a 76% fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Sony/Village Roadshow’s sci-fi love story Passengers, starring star power duo Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, is looking to whip its 30% Rotten Tomatoes reviews and pull in the masses with a $50M six-day opening; Sony, however, is expecting $35M-$40M. Passengers carried a $110M production cost before P&A, and the studio first unveiled footage for the film at CinemaCon last spring where it was one of the studio’s highlights. Previews start at 7 PM tonight at 2,700 locations, expanding to 3,400 tomorrow with some PLF and 3D built in. Pic, which is about two star-crossed space odyssey passengers who accidentally awake on their journey several decades early, is directed by The Imitation Game‘s Morten Tyldum.
The third wide opener tomorrow is 20th Century Fox’s Assassin’s Creed, which reteams Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard with their Macbeth director Justin Kurzel. It’s an adaptation of the Ubisoft video game which has sold more than 80M units and centers on Cal Lynch (Fassbender), who discovers he’s a descendant from a society of 15th century assassins, a group whose foes are present in modern day. Despite the awful reviews at 25% rotten, the anticipation is that the film will be frontloaded with fans who’ll fuel it to $30M-$35M over six days. Previews start tonight at 7 PM, with an expansion to 3,000 estimated theaters tomorrow.
Fox has two more titles: the James Franco-Bryan Cranston R-rated comedy Why Him? in 3,000, which will preview Thursday at 7 PM and earn $14M-$22M in four days, while the studio’s awards contender Hidden Figures about the black female mathematicians at NASA who were behind astronaut John Glenn’s historic space mission, opens in 25 locations on Christmas Day. Why Him? has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 38% rotten, while Hidden Figures has a 93% fresh rating.
Paramount is expanding Fences from five locations to 2,200 on Christmas Day. Industry projections have it at $9M. The $20M adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play has a Rotten Tomatoes 94% fresh rating and is bolstered by two Golden Globe nominations (for supporting actress Viola Davis, and lead actor drama Denzel Washington) and three SAG Awards noms (for Davis, Washington and ensemble).
Lionsgate’s La La Land, which counts close to $6M through 11 days, is widening from 200 locations to 750 sites in 100 markets.
The rest of the limited rollout schedule, which Brian Brooks will detail, is as follows:
Julieta (Sony Pictures Classics) — New York, LA
Patriots Day (CBS/Lionsgate) – New York, LA, Boston
I, Daniel Blake (IFC)
A Monster Calls (Focus Features) – limited
Silence (Par) – Two theaters, NY and LA
20th Century Women (A24) – limited
Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox) – limited
Live By Night (WB) – limited
Toni Erdmann (Sony Pictures Classics) – NY, LA