This weekend will likely see one of the biggest opening weekends since — well, since the last Star Wars movie. Disney’s spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hopes to maintain the box office power of the franchise’s seven “in sequence” films. Warner Bros. goes for the drama crowd with their new Will Smith-starring Collateral Beauty.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney)
- Any film with the word Star Wars in the title is an instant contender to become the highest grossing film of the year. Going back to the first film in 1977, six of the seven previous movies were the highest grosser of the year they came out, the lone exception being 2002’s Attack of the Clones — and even that was “only” the third-highest grosser of 2002. Currently the highest grosser of 2016 is June’s Finding Dory with $486.2 million. This is the only film to be released since the Pixar title that could legitimately challenge for that crown, but it won’t be an easy task even for Star Wars. Considering Rogue‘s spin-off status, a fair low-end benchmark may be Captain America: Civil War‘s $408.0 million, which stands as the second best domestic gross of 2016 so far.
- This installment takes place during the roughly 25-year period between the prequel trilogy and the “original” trilogy. Darth Vader is still alive, the Death Star is being constructed, Luke and Han and Leia aren’t in the picture yet, and a small rebel force is attempting to take down the Empire. With the most financially successful franchise in movie history behind it, Rogue One should be a lock for big dollars.
- There are very few negatives here from a box office perspective, but the big “if” might be that it’s the first Star Wars spin-off and features an almost entirely new set of characters from any of the seven previous films. November’s Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, if it continues at its current pace, looks likely to end up with fewer tickets sold than any of the eight in sequence Potter films. Rogue could suffer a similar fate — if you can call a likely $400 million gross “suffering.”
- Early reviews, while mostly very positive, suggest the film plays more strongly with avid fans than perhaps with casual viewers. If the latter aren’t as enamored with Rogue One as they were with The Force Awakens (or other franchise predecessors), it may prove to be comparatively front-loaded in the long run.
Collateral Beauty (Warner Bros.)
- The story of a depressed advertising executive who discovers meaning in his life could be a perfect fit for the holiday season, a la It’s a Wonderful Life. An all-star cast of Oscar winners and nominees includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, and Helen Mirren.
- Smith, clearly the lead character and the focus of most of the marketing, is coming off one of the biggest box office hits of his career with August’s Suicide Squad with $325.1 million total.
- On the other hand, Suicide Squad might not be the best comparison for a Will Smith film. Smith’s also had a December drama release last year with Concussion. It wasn’t a big box office hit, with a $10.5 million opening and $34.5 million total gross, despite being about football — by far the most popular sport in the U.S.
- Going up against Rogue One in its debut will be arguably the toughest competition of the year. Even then, last year two films went up against Star Wars: The Force Awakens and they both had respectable openings: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip with $14.2 million and Sisters with $13.9 million.
Boxoffice Pro forecasts the top 10 films will make a cumulative $211.15 million this weekend, which is 195 percent above last weekend’s $71.5 million, and 30 percent below the $302.7 million on this weekend last year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens led a historic box office frame with its record-breaking $248 million opening weekend.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro weekend forecast in the table below.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||% Change||Domestic Total through Sunday, December 18|
|Rogue One: A Star Wars Story||Buena Vista||$155,000,000||NEW||$155,000,000|
|Collateral Beauty||Warner Bros./New Line||$10,000,000||NEW||$10,000,000|
|Office Christmas Party||Paramount||$10,130,000||-40.02%||$32,850,000|
|Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them||Warner Bros.||$5,730,000||-45.02%||$208,260,000|
|Manchester By the Sea||Roadside Attractions||$5,000,000||59.66%||$14,816,000|
|La La Land||Lionsgate/Summit||$4,500,000||410.72%||$5,780,000|
|Doctor Strange||Buena Vista||$2,950,000||-34.96%||$226,940,000|
|Nocturnal Animals||Focus Features||$1,580,000||-50.02%||$9,050,000|
Shawn Robbins, Jesse Rifkin, and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.