Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens will continue to lord over the box office in its fourth frame with an estimated take of $45M-$50M, down 45%-50%. On the high end, that’s about what Avatar made at the same point in time: $50.3M. We’re already seeing a slowdown in Force Awakens’ grosses on a daily basis with Monday posting the lowest day gross for the pic to date at $8M, off 63% from Sunday. Why so low? Per Rentrak, K-12 kids are already back in school at 95%. However, there are plenty of college kids still on recess with 79% out.
Still as we head into the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend on Friday, Jan. 15, we remain in a robust box office frame. Says one distribution chief, “Business in January is always bigger than people think. Just look at last year.” While screens are already being shed by Force Awakens, many of those in distribution believe that Force Awakens will loosen its hold on theaters by MLK weekend. That’s when many expect Universal’s Ride Along 2, with an estimated 4-day debut of $50M-plus, seizing No. 1 away from Episode VII. Despite this, final domestic B.O. projections for Episode VII are between $900M-$1B. Though a slightly different time when there were significantly less digital, PLF and Imax screens in 2010, Avatar played at 1,000-plus venues until late March.
New Regency’s Leonardo DiCaprio western The Revenant rises from four locations to 3,371 on Friday after racking up $100K-plus theater averages in New York and Los Angeles over the last two weekends in play. Previews start Thursday at 7PM. The pic’s stateside cume stands at $1.38M. Industry estimates have Revenant in the low $20Ms at No. 2. The heavy-skewing male title arrives with an estimated post-tax credit production cost of $135M, the majority financed by New Regency, with additional financing from RatPac, Alpha Pictures and Empyre. Originally budgeted at an estimated $60M when contracts were negotiated, the film was challenged by the weather, including a lack of snow in Canada, which forced the production to relocate to Argentina. Said Revenant‘s Oscar-winning director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu at NYC Produced By conference back in October: “Nobody’s going to go to a film because the guys came in on time and under budget.” While most awards-driven DiCaprio fare has launched during the year end holidays, Fox opted to duck this frame so that Revenant could gain as much air at the B.O. in the wake of Force Awakens.
What Revenant has going for it that In the Heart of the Sea did not is an awards groundswell. Revenant is armed with an 81% fresh Rotten Tomatoes score (next to the Ron Howard film’s 44%) along with nominations from the Producers Guild, the Golden Globes (4 including best drama), Critics’ Choice (9 including best picture), and the Screen Actors Guild (lead actor DiCaprio). This alone could potentially fuel the film to the 5x multiple that DiCaprio titles hit during awards season. Even though the film doesn’t star a solid supporting female character, older women are the second highest quadrant for the film.
Also opening this weekend in 2,450 venues, is Gramercy Pictures’ horror title The Forest via Focus Features. The film, starring Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer, follows a girl who searches for her twin sister in a haunted Japanese forest. Opening weekend estimates range from the high single digits to low double digits, though many believe it will arrive at the high end. At PG-13, the target audience for The Forest are young women and Hispanic crowds.
Paramount/Red Granite’s Daddy’s Home will keep audiences laughing in its third sesh with an estimated $15M-$17.5M at No. 3. The Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg PG-13 comedy will hit $100M before Friday.
Weinstein Co.’s The Hateful Eight will raise its theater count, currently at 2,474, by another 400-500 locations. The Quentin Tarantino film is looking at a $10M-$11M third weekend as it locks horns with The Forest for fourth place. Current domestic cume stands at $30.6M. Last night in Hollywood, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Christopher Nolan, Vivica A. Fox and Colleen Camp hosted a dinner for Tarantino at the Sunset Tower hotel with Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, David O. Russell and Hateful Eight star Kurt Russell in attendance.
Paramount takes The Big Short even wider from 1,588 to 2,529, with industry estimates at $6M-$7M for its fifth weekend. Current cume through Monday is $33.9M.