UPDATE with latest numbers: Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued to steamroll at the box office, with its Wednesday totals this morning at $38.1 million, up 1% from Tuesday and making it the fifth-biggest Wednesday ever. Force Awakens counts $363.5M stateside, and non-Disney analysts project that the film will cross $500M on Sunday at the domestic B.O., making it the fastest to do so in 10 days (Thursday’s $57M previews are counted in Friday’s gross), annihilating Jurassic World‘s 17-day record. Keep in mind, Jurassic World cleared only $400M in 10 days.
What is going to propel Force Awakens past the five-century point is its second-weekend haul, which many are projecting between $150M-$162M, triggered by enormous Christmas Day advance tickets sales. Fandango reported that they’re seeing their biggest Christmas pre-sales with Force Awakens, outpacing previous holiday sellers Les Miserables and Django Unchained. This past weekend hit an all-time record for total ticket sales with $313M according to Rentrak, and we could see another $300M this weekend, which would be a historic Christmas frame. Peg that to Christmas falling on a Friday; the last time that occurred was 2009, the year of Avatar. The success of Christmas at the B.O. is contingent on three demographic groups turning up: Non Christians, older males, and African Americans. Whenever the holiday falls mid-week, it’s a different ballgame with stronger ticket sales during the middle part of the week.
Although a fantastic number yesterday for Force Awakens, it’s not a record as the titles above it were pics that launched midweek. The day’s all-time champ remains The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which made $68.5M on June 30, 2010, its opening day.
As far as today, Christmas Eve is historically one of the worst box office days of the year, but with Star Wars overperforming, we’re bound to see better results than in previous years. Today’s ticket sales are bound to dip from Wednesday; some theaters close in the Midwest while other multiplexes close early.
While kids off from school and college this week are completely distracted by Force Awakens, the industry is hoping for a trickle-down effect from Star Wars. That hasn’t happened yet in a big way for a number of new titles, but keep in mind holiday moviegoing doesn’t take off until Friday when audiences are unshackled from their seasonal obligations. With Star Wars currently sucking up all the air, most distribution chiefs are taking a marathon philosophy in regards to the final cumes of their product. For them, the end of the holiday season is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. On Friday, another four wide entries elbow their way onto the marquee, which many have labeled the Christmas crunch: Alcon/Warner Bros’ Point Break, 20th Century Fox’s Joy, Sony/Village Roadshow/LStar’s Concussion, and Paramount’s Daddy’s Home. There’s also some prolific limited entries: Weinstein Co.’s The Hateful Eight 70 MM roadshow at 100 sites and Fox’s The Revenant. Paramount’s Daddy’s Home and The Hateful Eight are two of the few films to preview tonight, while others will not.
Paramount widen its critically acclaimed awards-contending comedy The Big Short from eight locations to 1,585 yesterday making an estimated $2.3M in fourth place for a running cume of $3.8M. Should those figures remain consistent over the next five days, the film will meet the studio’s projection of $10M. They cut back on the number of runs this weekend so as to not be completely buried by Episode VII and the competition. Given Big Short‘s nominations — seven Critics’ Choice, four Golden Globes and two SAGs — the Adam McKay-directed financial comedy is a blue chip for the Melrose lot this awards season, and they want to keep the title alive into January.
In second place yesterday was Fox’s Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip with $3.4M per early AM industry estimates at 3,653 venues. Through six days, the fourquel has made $24.7M. Uni’s R-rated Sisters slotted third yesterday with $2.48M at 2,962 venues for a six-day total of $21.8M. One hysterical video that was posted six days ago has the cast of Sisters on Late Night With Seth Meyers using Star Wars action figures to persuade people to see their comedy. Amy Poehler had the last word among the bunch when she exclaimed, “I don’t care about Star Wars and I never ****ing did! I’m sorry, I’m tired of pretending!”