Sunday Is Strong For ‘Force Awakens’ With All-Time $60.55M; Final Opening-Weekend Record At $247.97M -Monday Update

By Anthony D'Alessandro, Anita Busch

13th UPDATE Write thru, Monday 12:42PM Final: Disney has finalized the official opening all-time record for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at $247.97M. Disney chief Bob Iger was floating a $247M figure in his Bloomberg interview, so this afternoon’s actual is just slightly ahead of it. Earlier this morning, industry projections showed Force Awakens at $248.5M-$250.3M.

This Force Awakens phenomenon sends Disney to an all-time high at the domestic B.O. with $1.85B and a 17.2% B.O. share (Universal is still No. 1 with $2.4B in 2015 and a 22.4% marketshare), surpassing its previous high in 2013 of $1.719B. Duly note that this share is expected to swell by Dec. 31. In addition, thanks to Star Wars we’re pacing toward an $11B high at the U.S./Canada B.O. Disney has built their success off the backs of strong global-appealing franchises and properties in Marvel (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man) , Pixar (Inside Out, Good Dinosaur), Lucasfilm, and even the studio’s own assets such as Cinderella. 

Disney owns four of the five top domestic debuts of all-time with Force Awakens, Avengers in No. 3 ($207.4M)Avengers Age of Ultron in No. 4 ($191.3M) and Iron Man 3 in fifth place ($174.1M).

In addition to landing the Sunday record of $60.55M, Force Awakens owns the all-time records for Thursday preview ($57M) and Friday (revised to $119.1M). In regard to Saturday, Force Awakens at $68.3M ranks third behind Jurassic World ($69.6M) and The Avengers ($69.55M).

In addition to being the top opening weekend of all-time at the domestic B.O., Force Awakens is the fourth film in 2015 after Jurassic World (No. 2), Avengers: Age Of Ultron (No. 4) and Furious 7 (No. 12) to rank among the top 15 stateside openings of all-time. Anita Busch also points out today that Force Awakens is poised to join a group of four global grossers this year that made their way onto the Top 10 highest-grossing films of all time.

Total weekend ticket sales are at an astounding record high of  $312.988M, up 304% from last weekend and +132% from the same period a year ago. As we noted earlier this weekend, 12 of the top ranked 15 titles last weekend shed a total of 10,645 theaters on Friday, with Force Awakens, Uni’s Sisters and 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip taking over the bulk of that supply, plus a few more, for a grand total of 10,749.

1). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 4,134 theaters /3-day cume: $247.97M / Per screen avg: $59,982 /Wk 1

2). Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip (FOX), 3,653 theaters /3-day cume: $14.3M / Per screen: $3,911 /Wk 1

3). Sisters (UNI), 2,962 theaters/3-day cume: $13.9M / Per screen: $4,700 /Wk 1

4). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (LGF), 2,653 theaters (-998) /$3-day cume: $5.7M (-50%) / Per screen: $2,146 /Total cume: $254.5M/Wk 5

5). Creed (MGM/New Line/WB), 2,433 theaters (-1,069) / /3-day cume: $5M (-50%)/ Per screen: $2,060 /Total cume: $87.8M /Wk 4

6). The Good Dinosaur (DIS), 2,755 theaters (-851) /3-day cume: $4.35M (-58%)/ Per screen: $1,579 /Total cume: $96.7M/Wk 4

7). Krampus (U/Legendary), 2,371 theaters (-548)/3-day cume: $4.1M (-51%)/ Per screen: $1,735 /Total cume: $35.1M/Wk 3

8). In The Heart of the Sea (WB/Village Roadshow), 3,103 theaters (0) / 3-day cume: $3.5M (-68%)/ Per screen: $1,123 /Total cume: $18.6M /Wk 2

9). Dilwale (UTV), 265 theaters /3-day cume: $1.9M / Per screen: $7,246 / Total cume: $2M/Wk 1

10). Bajirao Mastani (ERO), 304 theaters /3-day cume: $1.7M / Per screen: $5,727 /Wk 1

11). Spectre (SONY/MGM), 1,225 theaters (-1,415)/3-day cume: $1.43M (-65%)/ Per screen: $1,171 /Total cume: $193.9M /Wk 7

12). Spotlight (OPRD), 825 theaters (-264)/3-day cume: $1.42M (-43%) / Per screen: $1,728 /Total cume: $22.8M /Wk 7

13). Brooklyn (FSL), 614 theaters (-333) /3-day cume: $1.18M (-41%)/ Per screen: $1,916 /Total cume: $16.5M /Wk 7

14). The Night Before (SONY), 1,235 theaters (-1,439)/ 3-day cume: $1.15M (-72%)/ Per screen: $933 /Total cume: $41.5M/Wk 5

15). The Danish Girl (FOC), 81 theaters (+57) / 3-day cume: $547K (+108%)/ Per screen: $6,758 /Total cume: $1.3M/Wk 4

16). The Peanuts Movie (FOX), 771 theaters (-1882)/ 3-day cume: $538K (-80%)/ Per screen: $698 /Total cume: $126.3M /Wk 7

17). The Martian (FOX), 493 theaters (-548) / 3-day cume: $450K (-69%)/ Per screen: $913 /Total cume: $223.9M / Wk 12

18). Trumbo (BST), 273 theaters (-281) /3-day cume: $412K (-51%)/ Per screen: $1,509 /Total cume: $6.3M/Wk 7

19). The Big Short (PAR), 8 theaters (0)/3-day cume: $378K (-46%)/Per screen: $47,286K /Total cume: $1.3M /Wk 2

20). Love The Coopers (LGF), 593 theaters (-1,017)/ 3-day cume: $299K (-78%)/ Per screen: $505 /Total cume: $25.5M/Wk 6


Top Opening Weekends at the domestic BO

thumb rank film release date weekend opening
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dec. 18, 2015 $247.97M
2 Jurassic World June 12, 2015 $208.8M
3 The Avengers May 4, 2012 $207.4M
4 The Avengers: Age of Ultron May 1, 2015 $191.3M
5 Iron Man 3 May 3, 2013 $174.1M

Notables at the domestic B.O.:

Mojin: The Lost Legend (WLGO), 22 theaters /3-day cume: $280K /Per screen: $12,726/Wk 1

Carol (TWC), 16 theaters (0)/ 3-day cume: $231K (-32%) / Per screen: $14,446/Total: $1.6M/Wk 5

Room  (A24), 171 theaters (-27) / 3-day cume: $180K (-32%)/ Per screen: $1,054/Total cume: $4.5M / Wk 10

Son Of Saul (SPC), 3 theaters /3-day cume: $38K / Per screen: $12,643/Wk 1

The Himalayas (IND), 3 theaters /3-day cume: $13K / Per screen: $4,462/Wk 1

Pierrot Le Fou (RIA), 1 theaters /3-day cume: $7,922 / Wk 1

Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes (ARPIC), 1 theaters /3-day cume: $3,660 /Total cume: $5,588/ Wk 1

Noma – My Perfect Storm (MAG), 4 theaters /3-day cume: $2,987 / Per screen: $747/Wk 1

Dreams Rewired (IF), 3 theaters /3-day cume: $2,233 / Per screen: $744/ Total cume: $3,240/Wk 1

11th UPDATE, Sunday AM: As we saw last night, Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens is back in the upper echelon of its projections with an opening weekend of $241M-$246M per industry calculations. Disney is calling the weekend this morning at $238M, but others are telling us it’s much higher than that. As we always knew and saw, everyone can just say goodbye to the all-time domestic debut record that Jurassic World set back in June with $208.8M. Industry calculations show $69.1M for Saturday, while Disney reports $68.7M. Saturday was a steeper drop from Friday for Force Awakens at -43% than Jurassic World‘s -15% slip between those two days, but one needs to take into account how front-loaded the J.J. Abrams title was. Non-Disney sources are projecting a 20% slide between Saturday and Sunday, but at this momentum and whenever grosses are this high, the feeling is that Force Awakens will continue to surprise, especially as it heads into a week where 74% of schools are off. Every day is like a Friday this coming week. Disney sees a 29% dip from Saturday into Sunday with today grossing $48.8M. While Thursday and Friday’s tickets sales were dictated by advance sales, Sunday will be one of those days that relies largely on walk-up business. “Today is the day that these films can flex their muscles,” said one exhibition insider. Again, it’s just amazing to consider that this film will make more in a matter of days than any single Hobbit film did during their entire three-month-plus runs.

Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said today, “Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience, and director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and the Lucasfilm team have outdone themselves. To all of the fans around the world who not only came out in Force to make this such an exciting and astronomical debut but who treated this film as their own and helped preserve the experience for their fellow fans by not spoiling it – thank you, we do.”

Of all the demo stats and audience scores that we’ve gone through over the last three days, the most telling were those from Rentrak’s PostTrak indicative of repeat business in the days to come: 88% responded that they would recommend Force Awakens to a friend while  54% said Episode VII exceeded their expectations while 42% said it met their expectations. Of those that watched the film earlier this weekend, 95% of those polled said they knew five people who were going to come out and watch Force Awakens in the days to come. Force Awakens denizens also spared no expense to see the movie: 38% spent between $13-$15 to see the film, while 29% shelled out $16-$18 a ticket. We’ve heard that Force Awakens over-indexed in the west, a territory where a bulk of the tech/nerd crowd resides. 2D was the big draw for Disney on Force Awakens at 53% with 3D repping 47%. Breaking down that 3D number we see 28% traditional 3D, Imax at 12% and 3D PLF at 7%. RealD 3D accounted for an estimated $78M of Force Awakens’ weekend at the bulk of its 14K screen supply. Of that RealD PLF hubs made $15M. Force Awakens in Imax stateside beat JW, $30.1M to $20.9M, at 391 sites. Per screen was $77K with 7 of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 domestic locations being IMAX engagements.

20th Century Fox is reporting that Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened in No. 2 with $14.4M. Road Chip swelled east of the Rockies drawing a heavy ethnic crowd with 22% Hispanic and 19% African American. These demos will continue to propel the film over the weekend. With kids being off, Monday and Tuesday will prove to be robust days for Road Chip before Christmas foot traffic begins. Universal’s R-rated Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy Sisters which drew 79% women and 71% over 25 opened in third with $13.4M per the studio.  Biggest B.O. regions were south central and midwest for this TV headliners comedy with top theaters for the film being in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and D.C. Why open against Star Wars? For the competition, it’s not about how they start, but where they end up at the holiday box office. It’s the only time of year when distributors can rely on high multiples, that is as long as your movie is good.

Current industry calculation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens from Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka:

1). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 4,134 theaters / $120.7M Fri. / $69.1M Sat. (-43%) / $54.5M Sun. (-21%) /3-day cume: $241M-$246M /Wk 1  Disney Sunday weekend: $238M

Studio reported estimates for the weekend of Dec. 18-20 as compiled by Amanda N’Duka:

1). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 4,134 theaters / $120.5M Fri. / $68.7M Sat. (-43%) / $48.8M Sun. (-29%) /3-day cume: $238M /Wk 1

2). Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip (FOX), 3,653 theaters / $4.1M Fri. /$5.7M Sat. (+39%) / $4.5M Sun. (-21%) /3-day cume: $14.4M /Wk 1

3). Sisters (UNI), 2,962 theaters / $4.9M Fri. /$4.8M Sat. (-2%) / $3.6M Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $13.4M /Wk 1

4). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (LGF), 2,653 theaters (-998) / $1.56M Fri. /$2.3M Sat. (+49%) / $1.77M Sun. (-24%) /$3-day cume: $5.65M (-50%) /Total cume: $254.4M/Wk 5

5). Creed (MGM/New Line/WB), 2,433 theaters (-1,069) / $1.4M Fri. / $2.1M Sat. (+53%) / $1.6M Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $5.1M (-50%)/Total cume: $87.9M /Wk 4

6). The Good Dinosaur (DIS), 2,755 theaters (-851) / $1.08M Fri. /$1.8M Sat. (+66%) / $1.35M Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $4.2M (-59%)/Total cume: $96.5M/Wk 4

7). Krampus (U/Legendary), 2,371 theaters (-548) / $1.2M Fri. /$1.6M Sat. (+37%) / $972K Sun. (-40%) /3-day cume: $3.78M (-55%)/Total cume: $34.8M/Wk 3

8). In The Heart of the Sea (WB/Village Roadshow), 3,103 theaters (0)/ $985K Fri. /$1.4M Sat. (+44%) / $1.1M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $3.5M (-69%)/Total cume:$18.6M /Wk 2

9). Dilwale (UTV), 268 theaters / $598K Fri. /$728K Sat. (+22%) / $492K Sun. (-32%) /3-day cume: $1.9M /Wk 1

10). Bajirao Mastani (ERO), 304 theaters / $460K Fri. /$683K Sat. (+48%) / $512K Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $1.7M /Wk 1

11). Spotlight (OPRD), 825 theaters (-264) / $356K Fri. /$644K Sat. (+81%) / $483K Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $1.48M (-41%) /Total cume: $22.9M /Wk 7

12). Spectre (SONY/MGM), 1,225 theaters (-1,415)/ $360K Fri. /$615K Sat. (+71%) / $470K Sun. (-24%) /3-day cume: $1.4M (-64%)/Total cume: $193.9M /Wk 7


The Danish Girl (FOC), 81 theaters (+57) / $153K Fri. /$214K Sat. (+40%) / $171K Sun. (-20%) / 3-day cume: $538K (+104%)/ Total cume: $1.3M/Wk 4

Brooklyn (FSL), 614 theaters (-333) / $310K Fri. /$510K Sat. (+65%) / $380K Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $1.2M (-40%)/Total cume: $16.5M /Wk 7

Trumbo (BST), 273 theaters (-281) / $100K Fri. /$176K Sat. (+77%) / $109 Sun. (-38%) /3-day cume: $385K (-54%)/Total cume: $6.25M/Wk 7

 The Big Short (PAR), 8 theaters (0)/ $101K Fri./ $147K Sat. (+46%) / $102K Sun. (-31%) /3-day cume: $350K (-50%)/Per screen: $44K /Total cume: $1.3M /Wk 2

Mojin: The Lost Legend (WLGO), 30 theaters / $96K Fri. /$121K Sat. (+26%) / $91K Sun. (-25%) /3-day cume: $308K /Wk 1

Carol (TWC), 16 theaters (0)/ $60K Fri./ $94K Sat. (+57%) / $75K Sun. (-20%) / 3-day cume: $230K (-32%) /Total cume: $1.6M/Wk 5

Room  (A24), 171 theaters (-27) / $42K Fri. /$68K Sat. (+61%) / $54K Sun. (-20%) / 3-day cume: $165K (-38%)/ Total cume: $4.5M / Wk 10

Surprise – Journey To The West (ASIA), 26 theaters / $51K Fri. /$52K Sat. (+2%) / $42K Sun. (-20%) /3-day cume: $145K /Wk 1

Son Of Saul (SPC), 3 theaters / $10K Fri. /$15K Sat. (+42%) / $14K Sun. (-7%) /3-day cume: $39K /Per screen: $13K/Wk 1

10TH UPDATE, Sunday 12AM: Tonight is coming in better than anticipated with industry analysts putting Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Saturday between $65.5M-$68.7M. That’s a -43% to -46% decline from Friday’s opening day record of $120.5M, which includes $57M in Thursday previews. While Force Awakens’ Saturday doesn’t beat Jurassic World‘s record, it jumps the opening weekend estimates for Episode VII back up to $238M-$244M.

“This film is so out of control, it’s like nothing anybody has seen before. Everyone thinks they have a handle on projecting this, but really they don’t,” exclaimed one rival distribution executive. As we saw with Jurassic World back in June, this stems from the fact that the statistical sampling for forecasting these record opening B.O. weekends is quite small. With Force Awakens already beating JW‘s opening weekend record, Disney now counts four highs in the list of top 10 openers: Force Awakens at No. 1, Avengers in No. 3 ($207.4M), Avengers Age of Ultron in No. 4 ($191.3M) and Iron Man 3 in fifth place ($174.1M).

While Force Awakens certainly stole plenty of money away from the competition, most titles actually saw upticks on Saturday over Friday between +38% to +72%.

Holding on to second place is 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip with an opening between $14M-$14.1M after getting a bit of a boost from Saturday matinees. Pic’s second day ranges between $5.5M-$5.7M, +34-39%.

Universal’s R-rated Sisters was even if not down slightly from its $4.9M Friday for a third place debut of $13.3M-$13.6M.

Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2  took in $2.1M-$2.3M on Saturday, in what is projected to be a fifth weekend take of $5.4M-$5.7M, down 50%-53% for a running cume of $254M.  MGM/New Line’s Creed from Warner Bros. is staying strong with a cume by tomorrow of $88M and a fourth weekend of $5.1M-$5.3M, which is off 48% to 50%.

9TH UPDATE, Saturday 6:33PM: Disney as well as other sources are reporting that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently coming in on the conservative side of projections with a $220M weekend opening, which would still be an all-time record beating Jurassic force awakens 10World‘s $208.8M.  Peg that to softer Saturday matinees, however, evening shows could swing these figures higher. Per Disney, Saturday’s daytime grosses vs. Friday’s daytime ticket receipts are trailing by 5% ,currently at $47M, for a projected $60M today (that’s a 50% decline from yesterday’s opening day record of $120M, non-Disney analysts were predicting a Friday-to-Saturday decline of -42%. However, Disney’s box office estimates have been pretty much on the mark throughout the weekend versus rivals’ projections. By comparison, if Force Awakens files a $60M Saturday, it will rank fourth behind  JW ($69.6M), Avengers ($69.55M) and Iron Man 3 ($62.3M). Anecdotally, we stopped by The Cinemark XD in Crenshaw at 4PM and there were still plenty of showtimes that weren’t sold out. Another exhibition chain told us earlier today that the flyover states were doing gangbuster business.

Rentrak is projecting that the total ticket sales for this weekend are also hitting an all-time record with an estimated $305M, eclipsing the $273.8M weekend record total from June 12-14 when JW opened. This weekend is up close to three fold over last weekend’s paltry results of $77.4M, and they’re +126% over the same pre-Christmas weekend a year ago. 2015’s total tickets sales thanks to Force Awakens will rise to $10.39B, +5.8% from a year ago. If we’re going to clear a first-time ever $11B year, we have $610M to clear by Dec. 31.

As we observed earlier, it’s a big shopping day and travel day, however with close to 74% of schools off on Monday, Force Awakens is going to keep clicking. The highest grossing Monday of all-time belongs to Spider-Man 2 which made $27.7M on July 5, 2004.

8TH UPDATE & WRITETHRU, Saturday, 8AM: As of Saturday morning, industry analysts currently see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with an opening day record of $119M-$120M en route for an all-time record opening of $246M-$254M at the domestic box office. Disney is calling Friday at $120.5M. To put Fans Line Up To Watch "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" In New York CityForce Awakens’ opening in perspective, consider the following: Disney made $100M from the film in just 21 hours at 1PM PST; an amount that most successful tentpoles open to in a 3-day weekend. By Sunday, Force Awakens will beat or come close to beating the entire domestic runs of the last two Hobbits which were released over the last two Decembers— The Desolation of Smaug ($258.4M) and The Battle of Five Armies ($255.1M). It took Jurassic World five days to cross $250M. Domestic all-time grosser Avatar, which opened during this frame back in 2009 to $77M and ended its stateside cume at $749.8M, took 12 days to clear $250M. However, that was during the pre-historic days of digital and 3D cinema. When Avatar opened there were 3,100 RealD screens in the U.S./Canada; now there are 14,000 with the majority of them playing Force Awakens. 

Currently, Saturday is expected to fall 42% from Friday. But much of that hinges on how much walk-up business Force Awakens gets, and Disney and major chains continue to beat the drum that there are plenty of tickets available.  One suburban L.A. Regal multiplex only had 10PM shows left as of 5:30PM on Friday with all prior shows sold out. When it comes to box office analysts calculating projections for Force Awakens, it’s a challenge as the statistical set of data is minimal. We observed how hard this was for distribution executives after Jurassic World opened.

Given the amount of theaters we expected Force Awakens to suck up (Disney’s 4,134 count is a record wide for December), we wondered what November titles would survive on the marquee. Twelve of the top ranked 15 titles last weekend shed a total of 10,645 theaters on Friday. Force Awakens, Universal’s Sisters and 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip took over the bulk of that theater count, plus a few more for a grand total of 10,749. Sony/MGM/Eon’s Spectre is braving its way against Star Wars during the holidays and is expected to cross $200M.

PLF is having a heyday zooming toward $20M, which would be a new high for the format, repping 8% of Force Awakens‘ entire weekend. Cinemark XD’s PLF brand will make close to $5M. On Friday, PLF at 450 screens repped 9% of Force Awakens’ till, or $10.6M. Of that figure, Cinemark’s 118 PLF bookings of Force Awakens made $2.57M.

CinemaScore is reporting an awesome A for Force Awakens which beats the A- earned by Episodes I-III. Those giving it an A+ include women, those under 25 and the under 18ers. 98% of audiences gave the film an A or B. Male to female ratio was 64% to 36% which is nearly identical to those who turned up for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Similar to what we saw with PostTrak’s preview audience, the older fans are coming out to Force Awakens with 67% of the audience over 25. Sith only pulled in 56% of that crowd to 44% under 25 and what this shows with Force Awakens is that the audience is just getting older. Over three-quarters of those buying tickets to Force Awakens on Friday were fans of the franchise. Also pulling solid draws were Harrison Ford (18%), Carrie Fisher (16%) and J.J. Abrams (19%). The actors and actress audience appeal with Sith, which starred Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen was quite low at around 10%, while moviegoers then at 22% cited director George Lucas as one of the reasons why they watched Sith. 

Top Opening Days at the domestic BO

thumb rank film release date preview b.o. opening day b.o.
1 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Dec. 18, 2015 $57M $119M-$120M Est.
2 Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 July 15, 2011 $43.5M $91.1M
3 The Avengers: Age of Ultron May 1, 2015 $27.6M $84.4M
4 Jurassic World June 12, 2015 $18.5M $82M
5 The Avengers May 4, 2012 $18.7M $80.8M

The Road Chip and Sisters respectively received grades of A- and B. Both are looking at debuts in the $13.8M-$14M+ range which are considered good starts by our sources. Many see Road Chip slotting above Sisters because of Saturday and Sunday matinees. Family fare can leg out all the way to MLK, Jr. weekend, and Uni has a devoted female base for its R-rated raunchy comedies. Sisters, before P&A, has an estimated $30M production cost.

The first two Alvins got As while the third one, Chipwrecked received a B+.  Though it’s the lowest road chipone in the series stateside, it didn’t do so bad, opening to $23.2M and putting up a 5.7 multiple of $133.1M. The Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise is a serious holiday staple for the studio, racking up $1.16B worldwide.

Moms were in attendance at Road Chip at 63% with a near even split among the under/over 25 set. A little more than half of the crowd came out because their fans of the Alvin films. This audience breakdown is very close to the make-up of Chipwrecked.

SISTERSGiven Sisters’ paltry CinemaScores; if this film was playing outside the holiday, its fate might be grim. However, given that the weekend before Christmas is traditionally a tough movie weekend to draw in females, many expect it to reap a holiday multiple since its a huge draw for older women at 76% with 71% over 25. Much older folk couldn’t tolerate with the over 50 bunch giving it a nasty C+. Bridesmaids earned a B+, but it had more As sprinkled throughout its demos.

It’s interesting to note that 71% of those turning up for Sisters came out for stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, while 77% bought tickets to the fresh-faced headlining Bridesmaids because they were attracted to its naughty concept. Typically whenever the stars are the biggest reason for why an audience turns up, it means that a title won’t have long legs – the actors’ fans come out in the first weekend, and grosses dwindle in subsequent frames. But since it’s the holidays, that methodology goes out the window as the average multiples associated with CinemaScores skew significantly higher.

One title suffering the fate of The Force this weekend: Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s In the Heart of the Sea which is expected to deep-six by 67% in its second sesh with $3.6M. That’s worse than what a horror film drops in its second frame. As of right now, the Ron Howard 1820 whaling epic isn’t expected to cross $20M. Another in the string of box office blunders for the studio.

UTV’s Dilwalewhich is also getting play in non-Star Wars countries China and India this weekend, broke into the top 10 with a projected $2M. The film is from superstar Shah Rukh Khan who reunites with his Chennai Express director Rohit Shetty. The film is a romantic musical action comedy about the offspring of two competing families who meet up again after a 15-year separation.

Awards titles are looking to stay alive. Both Open Road and Searchlight respectively scaled back their theater counts for Spotlight and Brooklyn. Spotlight is estimated to hit $22.6M by Sunday. After the Golden Globes and Oscar noms, Spotlight will turn up its screen wattage again.

ROONEY MARAWeinstein Co.’s Carol isn’t going to get lost in this Star Wars box office galaxy. The distrib kept the film confined to 16 locations in its fifth frame where it’s looking to make $218K, just 35% off from last weekend. The Todd Haynes-directed period romance is boasting $13,625 per theater, more than double what The Artist was putting up at the same point in time. By Sunday, the film looks to clear $1.6M.

Danish GirlLike TWC, Focus Features has been holding back its theater count on The Danish Girl so that it lasts longer throughout the holidays and awards season.  The film is looking at a 92% fourth weekend boost or $506K as it expands from 24 to 81 theaters. Compared to director Tom Hooper’s best picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech at the same point in time, that film was in 47% fewer venues and it was making more. By Sunday, The Danish Girl will be pacing behind King’s Speech by $1.6M.

Paramount’s The Big Short, though slipping 49% in weekend 2, is still putting up a hefty per theater average of $44K at eight locations. The Adam McKay feature adaptation of the Michael Lewis tome goes wide this Wednesday.

Hungary’s Son of Saulwhich was recently named as one of the nine foreign films on Oscar’s short-list, is currently looking at a $36K opening at three venues for $12K a theater.

The top 10 films as compiled by Deadline’s Amanda N’Duka as of Saturday 8:20AM:

1). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 4,134 theaters / $119M-$120M Fri.* / 3-day cume: $246M-$254M / Wk 1
*includes Thursday previews of $57M

2). Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip (FOX), 3,653 theaters / $4.1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $13.8M-$14.5M / Wk 1

3). Sisters (UNI), 2,962 theaters / $4.9M Fri.** / 3-day cume: $13.8M-$14M / Wk 1
**includes $769K previews

4). The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (LGF), 2,653 theaters (-998) / $1.5M Fri. (-53%)/ 3-day cume: $5.3M (-53%) / Total cume: $254.1M/ Wk 5

5). Creed (MGM/New Line/WB), 2,433 theaters (-1,069) / $1.4M Fri. (-54%) / 3-day cume: $4.8M (-52%) / Total cume: $87.6M / Wk 4

6). The Good Dinosaur (DIS), 2,755 theaters (-851) / $1.07M Fri. (-52%) / 3-day cume: $4.4M (-57%) / Total cume: $96.7M / Wk 4

7). Krampus (UNI/Legendary), 2,371 theaters (-548) / $1.2M Fri. (-53%) / 3-day cume: $3.9M (-54%) / Total cume: $34.9M / Wk 3

8). In The Heart of the Sea (WB/Village Roadshow), 3,103 theaters (0) / $979K Fri. (-75%) / 3-day cume: $3.4M (-69%) / Total cume: $18.5M / Wk 2

9). Dilwale (UTV), 268 theaters / $597K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2M / Wk 1

10). Bajirao Mastani (ERO), 304 theaters / $459K Fri. /3-day cume: $1.5M /Wk 1

11). Spectre (SONY/MGM), 1,225 theaters (-1,415) / $356K Fri. (-68%) / 3-day cume: $1.3M (-67%) / Total cume: $193.8M / Wk 7


Spotlight (OPRD), 825 theaters (-264) / $352K Fri. (-50%) / 3-day cume: $1.3M (-50%) / Total cume: $22.6M / Wk 7

Brooklyn (FSL), 614 theaters (-333) / $313K Fri. (-46%) / 3-day cume: $1.1M (-44%) / Total cume: $16.4M / Wk 7

The Danish Girl (FOC), 81 theaters (+57) / $145K Fri. (+78%) / 3-day cume: $506K (+92%) / Total cume: $1.3M / Wk 4

 Trumbo (BST), 273 theaters (-281) / $100K Fri. (-57%) / 3-day cume: $363K (-57%) / Total cume: $6.2M / Wk 7

The Big Short (PAR), 8 theaters (0) / $101K Fri. (-55%) / 3-day cume: $355K (-49%) / PTA: $44K / Total cume: $1.3M / Wk 2

Mojin: The Lost Legend (WLGO), 30 theaters / $96K Fri. /3-day cume: $289K /Wk 1

Carol (TWC), 16 theaters (0) / $60K Fri. (-44%) / 3-day cume: $218K (-35%) / Total: $1.6M / Wk 5

Room  (A24), 171 theaters (-27) / $47K Fri. / 3-day cume: $171K (-35%) / Total cume: $4.5M / Wk 10

Surprise – Journey To The West (ASIA), 26 theaters / $51K Fri. / 3-day cume: $162K / Wk 1

Son Of Saul (SPC), 3 theaters / $10K Fri. / 3-day cume: $36K / Wk 1

5th UPDATE, Friday, 4:36 PM: How many records will Star Wars: The Force Awakens bust through this weekend? Late-afternoon estimates now put the J.J. Abrams-directed force of nature at around $125M-$130M, on track for a $250M-$260M weekend. These are not distributor Disney’s numbers but industry estimates. It already has shattered records for the highest advance sales and the biggest Thursday preview night, and it’s going to easily push past Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2‘s single-day-gross record. Jurassic World is also no match for this monster as it is crushing it on the biggest three-day gross ever (see charts below). That’s how it stands now, with more to come tonight.

OK, now for the other titles — yes there are two other pics opening this weekend. The Amy Poehler-Tina Fey comedy Sisters from Universal is still on track for a midteen three-day weekend and might see a total Friday take of $5M -$6M for an opening probably in the $16M-$17M range. This weekend is traditionally not a big moviegoing weekend for females, but the studio is hoping for a little counter-programming action in this R-rated romp. Also opening is Fox’s family film Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, which has a new estimated Friday gross of $4M to $5M but it is still on track for a midteen three-day. Both are likely to play through the holidays.

Saturday is going to be a telling day for Star Wars as it will give Disney a good measure of what kind of walk-up business it can expect since 80% of pre-sold tickets were bought for ThursdayFriday and Christmas, in that order. That kind of moviegoing buying activity is similar to the Twilight movie, where most fans showed up on Thursday and Friday. Whatever cash the picture can haul in tonight, doubling that number will get us fairly close to the three-day box office gross. Stay tuned. More to come tonight.

As we saw with Universal during the opening weekend of Jurassic World, Disney is being very conservative with estimates. At this point, they see a $100M+ Friday and a $200M+ weekend. Saturday is a wild card day and will determine if Force Awakens gets to this stratosphere level, specifically because it’s a big holiday travel and shopping day. 80% of the Force Awakens pre-sales were bought for the following days in order: Thursday, Friday and Christmas Day. Hence, many foresee Saturday as the day that could benefit from the most walk-up business, and both Disney and exhibitors such as AMC continue to emphasize there’s millions of tickets available.

With eye-boggling grosses like this, what could possibly come in second this weekend? Many are betting that 20th Century Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip makes an estimated $18M at 3,653 theaters after a Friday that’s between $5.5M-$6M. Universal’s R-rated comedy Sisters with its intent on hooking females, is looking at $6M today for a $17M opening in third place. The film, suffocated by Star Wars, couldn’t bust $1M in previews last night, settling for $769K.

Among holdovers, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will have the benefit of slotting fourth with an estimated 45% decline for a fifth weekend of $6.3M and a running cume of $255.1M. Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s In The Heart Of The Sea will be down 55% in its second session with $5.1M and a 10-day cume of $20.2M. As to whether all films in the marketplace will reap from Force Awakens’ rising tide, we’ll have to wait until we get past Christmas Eve when all holiday distractions cease for moviegoers.

Previously, Warner Bros.’ 2011 finale Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 owned the preview record of $43.5M and the opening day of $91M. 47% of Force Awakens’ Thursday night gross came from 3D, with Imax generating $5.7M at 391 hubs; that’s close to double the previous preview night record set by Avengers: Age Of Ultron of $3M.

kylo ren

How were the preview grosses calculated? Non-Disney sources with access to hourlies tell us that the previews for Force Awakens were weighted from 7 PM until 6 AM on Friday. When Warner Bros. generated $43.5M from Deathly Hallows 2 they counted the grosses from those showtimes between midnight Friday until 6 AM; after 2 AM, there was only a smattering of them. This raises questions as to how Disney will count showtimes for the first day of Force Awakens. Will the opening record be based on a 29-hour day (Thursday 7 PM shows through those ending at 11:59 PM today)? Or a 35-hour day inclusive of those shows ending at 6 AM on Saturday? One analyst noticed that heading into post-6 AM shows today that business for Force Awakens is tracking down 10% from the preview shows.

The No. 1 film outside of previews last night? Lionsgate’s Mockingjay – Part 2 which made $895K from 3,651 locations; its current B.O. is $248.8M. In The Heart Of The Sea was second with an estimated $735K at 3,103 and a first week’s cume of $15.1M. 20th Century Fox was wise not to battle the Force last night with its fourthquel Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip. continues to report that 94% of the site’s ticket sales are for Force Awakens — surprise, surprise. A majority of tickets at 42% are being sold in pairs, which means people are attending the film alone. Group tickets of 3 or 4 are being snapped up respectively at 15%. Only 4% of all Force Awakens tickets buyers are purchasing six tickets or more.

Opening Night Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" At The TCL Chinese TheatreRentrak’s PostTrak unveiled last night the following audience breakdown (which they monitor throughout the weekend): Force Awakens is largely drawing older males at 71% guys, 53% over 25. A majority of the audience at 94% are grading the J.J. Abrams film either excellent or very good, which is a remarkable score rarely seen on PostTrak. Close to half of the audience say they attended Force Awakens because it’s part of a franchise they love. More than half the audience polled say that Force Awakens exceeded their expectations. 72% said they decided more than a week ago that they were going to Force Awakens, while 24% said they decided tonight to buy a ticket to the film.

Also as of last night per PostTrak, a majority of the audience watched Force Awakens in RealD 3D at 44%, followed by 2D at 32% and Imax 3D at 16%.

star wars preview chart

PREVIOUSLY, 6:52 PM: “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” one exhibition insider told us as Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens is cruising toward an earth-shattering Thursday night preview record tonight. We’re literally hearing from our non-Disney sources that it Fans Line Up To Watch "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" In New York Citycould push to $50M — and some say much higher. That would be phenomenal and better than the record set by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows-Part 2, which made $43.5M from midnight showings in 2011. From Valencia, CA to New York City, shows are selling out back-to-back. “Every time a show is added, it sells out,” said another exhibitor.

In Manhattan, some theaters are playing Force Awakens 24/7. By 4:50 PM today at Edwards suburban Valencia 12, 30 minutes north of L.A., the first four shows of the night starting at 7 PM were completely sold out, with a throng of folks clustered outside the multiplex since 10AM. At the Landmark Theatre on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, Force Awakens is playing seven times tonight, with most theaters packing in an 80% capacity. We’ve heard of some West Coast theaters playing the film until 4:30 AM. The Hollywood Arclight on Sunset is showing Force Awakens for 24 hours straight.

“I can tell you this: No one has ever seen anything like this,” said one distribution insider. “It’s very possible that it could go over $50M.” The exec also says that if theaters are playing this film all night long, The Force Awakens can get to $100M in one of the fastest times ever.

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