Box Office: 'Moana' Beats 'Office Christmas Party' With $18.8M; 'La La Land' Breaks Records
'La La Land' scores the second-best location average of all time for a specialty film and the best ever for a prestige title rolling out in five theaters; fellow awards contender 'Manchester by the Sea' continues to prosper.
Call it the calm before The Force.
Disney Animation Studios' Moana topped a relatively quiet weekend at the North American box office with $18.8 million from 3,875 theaters in its third consecutive win. The only new film opening nationwide was Paramount's Office Christmas Party, an ensemble comedy earning a solid $17.5 million from 3,210 theaters.
Overseas, where it is rolling out slowly, Moana grossed another $23.5 million for a global catch of $238.8 million. Next weekend, Disney will continue to own the top perch when Lucasfilm's Rogue One: A Star War Story takes flight around the globe.
Getting a jump on Rogue One, Illumination Entertainment and Universal's animated tentpole Sing debuted early in its first 12 foreign markets this weekend, earning $9.6 million. Sing rolls out Dec. 21 in the U.S.
Office Christmas Party bowed to $16.3 million offshore for a global opening of $33.9 million. The bawdy, R-rated comedy stars Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance and Rob Corddry, while Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Aniston co-star. The pic, about a group of employees trying to win over a prospective client by throwing a decadent holiday bash, cost $45 million to make and was directed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon.
In North America, Office Christmas Party opened in line with expectations and earned a B CinemaScore.
"This is a great number for a holiday comedy, which has great multiples. Sisters [which opened Dec. 18, 2015] did a 5.7 multiple," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's distribution chief.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them placed No. 3 with $10.8 million from 3,626 theaters, and will cross the $200 million mark sometime on Monday (its domestic total through Sunday is $199.3 million). Globally, the Warner Bros. tentpole has now grossed a hearty $680 million after once again topping the foreign chart with $33.1 million.
Sci-fi drama Arrival ($5.6 million) and Doctor Strange ($4.6 million) rounded out the top five in North America.
There was a flurry of activity at the specialty box office as awards season heats up — Golden Globe nominations will be announced Monday morning — led by Damien Chazelle's critically acclaimed musical La La Land, which broke records in its New York and Los Angeles debut. The pic, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, danced to $855,000 from five theaters in N.Y. and L.A. for a massive location average of $171,000.
That's the top theater average of all time for a specialty film debuting in five cinemas, the second-best showing of all time for any specialty film behind Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel ($202,792, four theaters) and the top showing of the year to date. Moonlight was this year's previous champ with $100,519. It's also the highest gross ever for a live-action pic playing in eight or less locations.
Lionsgate and Black Label Media co-financed the $30 million La La Land, Chazelle's ode to Hollywood musicals. The film played older as expected, with 53 percent of the audience over the age of 30. It will expand into 300 theaters on Friday.
"Right now we are focused on expanding the film and spreading the success," said Lionsgate distribution chief David Spitz.
Overseas, La La Land dazzled in South Korea with a $4 million debut, its first major market. It also debuted in five other small markets for a foreign tally of $4.6 million.
A number of awards contenders expanded aggressively over the weekend, including Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals, which upped its theater count from 127 locations to more than 1,000 in its fourth frame. The Focus Features release moved up the chart with $3.19 million for a domestic total of $6.2 million. Offshore, Nocturnal Animals took in $1.2 million from 28 territories for a foreign tally of $10 million and global take of $16.2 million.
Manchester by the Sea continued to prosper, all but tying with Nocturnal Animals despite playing in only 367 theaters. The Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions release earned $3.16 million for a domestic total of $8.3 million.
Like Nocturnal Animals, EuropaCorp's specialty film Miss Sloane expanded nationwide. The political thriller, starring Jessica Chastain, placed No. 11 with $1.9 million for a domestic total of $2 million.
Specialty title Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, earned roughly $500,000 from 21 theaters in its second weekend for a location average of $19,200 and 10-day total of $860,000.
Elsewhere, the Metropolitan Opera's The Met: Live in HD's Saturday transmission of Kaija Saariaho’s contemporary masterpiece L’amour de Loin grossed $1 million from more than 900 screens.