This weekend, it was a close race between fictitious space travelers and real NASA scientists as North American moviegoers spent about the same amount of money seeing franchise megahit Rogue One and the new drama Hidden Figures which expanded into nationwide release. Studio estimates released on Sunday morning showed a slight edge for the Star Wars story, however final grosses on Monday will indicate which film takes the box office crown during the first full weekend of 2017 which also saw winter storms impact some grosses in the eastern parts.
If estimates hold, Rogue One will spend its fourth consecutive frame on top, this time grossing an estimated $22M. The Disney smash tumbled a hefty 56%. By comparison, Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped 53% a year ago when coming off of New Year’s weekend but grossed nearly twice as much with $42.4M in its fourth lap.
Rogue One continues to run 41% behind the pace of TFA and has boosted its domestic cume to a fantastic $477.3M. The rebels have now broken into the Top 10 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters sitting at number eight and bumping down Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in the process. By the end of this week, Rogue One will surpass Finding Dory to become the highest-grossing film from 2016 and will eventually challenge The Dark Knight for number six on the all-time list.
China finally got Rogue One this weekend and delivered a $31M opening weekend over three days. That’s down 48% from the first three days (Saturday-to-Monday) for Force Awakens a year ago this same weekend when it launched there. Star Wars movies skew heavily towards American audiences on the world stage, but more appeal in China was expected on Rogue One given the casting of Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang in the main cast. Overall, international markets grossed $56.6M this weekend raising the offshore cume to $437.1M and the global haul to $914.4M. Domestic accounts for 52%.
With this weekend’s results, Disney now controls the five highest-grossing global blockbusters of 2016 with Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Rogue One. They have collected a combined $5.1 billion to date with the Mouse House pulling off jaw-dropping dominance of the film industry over the past year. Rogue One may have around $200M in worldwide box office still to come.
Fox’s hit NASA scientist film Hidden Figures did stellar numbers in limited release over the holidays and used this weekend to catapult itself into national play and the strategy worked like gangbusters. Exceeding all expectations, the PG-rated pic grossed an estimated $21.8M from 2,471 locations for a sizzling $8,822 average. Cume is $24.8M.
Powered by terrific reviews, solid buzz from the limited run, and a strong marketing push, Hidden Figures connected with audiences who overwhelmingly enjoyed what they saw. It earned a rare A+ CinemaScore which bodes very well for the road ahead as audiences recommend the film to others. Plus next weekend’s long Martin Luther King holiday frame should help make for a sturdy sophomore performance. And direct competition throughout January is not fierce.
Anchored by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe and co-starring Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures offered ample starpower while the true story of three African American women at NASA in the 1960s was a major draw too.
Studio data showed that the audience for Hidden Figures was 64% female and 56% over 35. Given the story and the setting this was not surprising. But the racial makeup was broad with whites leading the way with 43% of the audience, blacks at 37%, and others at 20%. Produced for only $25M, a road leading to the $100M mark cannot be ruled out at this point given the promising month ahead.
The animated blockbuster Sing cracked the $200M mark this weekend and stands as 2016’s top grossing movie to never reach the number one spot. Universal’s toon sensation fell 54% in only its third weekend to an estimated $19.6M lifting the cume to a robust $213.4M. Breaking a quarter-billion seems possible in North America and the new worldwide total sits at $356.9M with many key international markets yet to open.
Kate Beckinsale’s latest vampire flick Underworld: Blood Wars posted a moderate opening weekend in fourth place with an estimated $13.1M from 3,070 locations for a so-so $4,267 average. That was by far the worst debut ever for the five-film franchise as all other installments opened in the $20-27M range from 2003 to 2012. But the Underworld series is more about international markets. The last two films that Beckinsale starred in – 2006’s Evolution and 2012’s Awakening – both grossed an identical $62.3M in North America, however, overseas grosses rose dramatically and overtook domestic on the latter chapter.
Blood Wars will still try to be a little moneymaker for Sony and its Screen Gems unit. The production cost was $35M, nearly half of the previous pic’s budget. And international markets have matured even more. The studio began its roll-out abroad over a month ago launching two weeks ahead of Rogue One grossing over $45M from dozens of territories and many major markets (like much of Europe) are still to come.
La La Land continued its successful expansion doubling its run from 750 to 1,515 locations this weekend just in time for the Golden Globes where it is expected to win lots of love. The Lionsgate release grossed an estimated $10M which was up 5% from last weekend and averaged a solid $6,601 per location. Cume is now $51.7M as the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone hit dances its way towards the $100M mark. A special run on IMAX screens will debut next weekend adding even more to the purse.
The sci-fi adventure Passengers fell 46% to an estimated $8.8M giving Sony $80.9M from North America with hopes of reaching the century club. Global is now up to $185M with China launching next weekend. The Fox comedy Why Him? followed with an estimated $6.5M, down 35%, for a new sum of $48.6M.
Disney’s big animated hit Moana placed eighth in its seventh weekend with an estimated $6.4M, off 42%, pushing the domestic haul to $225.4M. Overseas saw $20M this weekend thanks in part to its debut in Brazil. International stands at $224.7M while the global tally is $450.1M with Korea opening next week and Japan to launch in March. For the studio’s other 2016 toon hit Zootopia, Japan was the second biggest foreign market behind only China.
Denzel Washington’s Fences took a big hit falling 53% to an estimated $4.7M putting Paramount at $40.7M. Unless major Oscar nominations come its way, a final in the area of $55M seems likely which would be the lowest gross for Washington in a lead role in more than 13 years. Rounding out the top ten was the action title Assassin’s Creed with an estimated $3.8M, down 56%, for a $49.5M cume for Fox.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $116.7M which was down 18% from last year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens stayed at number one with $42.4M; but up 11% from 2015 when Taken 3 opened in the top spot with $39.2M.
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