Weekend Box Office: 'Rogue One,' 'Sing' Rule Christmas; 'Fences,' 'Hidden Figures' Please

Elsewhere, 'Passengers' opens on the low end of expectations but made gains on Christmas Day, while 'Assassin's Creed' withers; awards contender 'La La Land' earns $9.7 million as it expands into most top markets across the country.

The Force once again ruled the Christmas box office.

Lucasfilm and Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story showed impressive staying power in its second outing, grossing $96.2 million from 4,157 theaters over the long holiday weekend (Friday-Monday), easily trumping a glut of holiday titles entering the fray and jumping the $500 million mark globally, including clearing $318.2 million-plus domestically. The stand-alone title comes a year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens did historic Christmas business. 

Rogue One also continued to rule overseas, earning another $47.1 million for a foreign total of $255.6 million and $573.8 million worldwide through Sunday.

Illumination and Universal's new animated holiday offering Sing, coming in No. 2, was the other big winner. The music-themed animated film — think talking animals meets American Idol — took in $54.9 million for the Friday-Monday stretch, putting its six-day launch at $75.5 million. Overseas, the movie's weekend tally was $25.3 million from 50 markets for a foreign total of $54.4 million through Monday and worldwide cume of $129.9 million.

"This is a great launching point," said Universal distribution chief Nick Carpou. "We will continue to play extraordinarily well today and throughout this week, as well as into the New Year. For Illumination's second original film of the year after The Secret Life of Pets, this is a really impressive start."

In North America, Sing opened Wednesday in North America opposite Passengers and Assassin's Creed, followed by a slew of other films on Friday and again on Christmas Day.

Morten Tyldum's Passengers, the sci-fi space romance starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, came in on the low end of expectations with a four-day weekend of $22.7 million from 3,478 runs for a six-day opening of $30.1 million. Sony had hoped for a $30 million-$40 million start, but is confident the movie will continue to make up ground after seeing a 164 spike from Saturday to Sunday. Passengers, placing No. 3, cost $110 million to $120 million to make after tax incentives and rebates.

"We are just getting started," Sony worldwide marketing and distribution chief Josh Greenstein said. "Sunday was really the first day the true adult audience was available. We have a very entertaining popcorn movie, and I think we'll end up at a very healthy number."

R-rated comedy Why Him?, starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco, came in No. 4 after opening Friday with a four-day tally of $15.7 million from 2,917 theaters for Fox. 

"Our sweet spot is moviegoers aged 18 to 24," said Chris Aronson. "There's not another comedy until mid-February, and America needs a good a laugh right now."

The male-fueled video game adaptation Assassin's Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, rounded out the top five with a withering four-day tally of $14.9 million and six-day total of $22.4 million from 2,970 locations after costing New Regency $125 million to make.

Fox is releasing Assassin's Creed, which garnered even worse reviews than Passengers, although it did slightly better than Passengers in terms of its CinemaScore (B+ versus a B). Both films are disappointing so far. Sing, costing a least $75 million to  make, earned an A CinemaScore.

Denzel Washington's Broadway play adaptation Fences did pleasing business on Christmas Day as it expanded into 2,233 theaters, earning an estimated $6.6 million for a four-day weekend of $12 million-$13 million, enough for a sixth-place finish. Washington directed and stars in the Paramount film opposite Viola Davis.

Also making a major expansion Sunday was Damien Chazelle's critical and box-office darling La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The musical, now playing in 733 theaters, earned $3.9 million on Christmas Day for an estimated four-day weekend of $9.7 million, pushing its early domestic total to $17.6 million through Monday. The Lionsgate placed No. 8 for the four-day weekend.

The year-end holiday stretch is the most crowded corridor at the box office, between wide players and awards contenders opening under the wire. Films rolling during this time can rack up strong multiples between Dec. 25 and the end of New Year's weekend since kids are out of school and many adults are off from work.

A slew of award hopefuls opened in limited runs on Christmas Day, including Fox 2000 and Chernin Entertainment's Hidden Figures, which posted one of the top location averages of the entire weekend. The historical drama movie opened to a stellar $515,499 on Sunday from 25 theaters and another $323,426 on Monday for a two-day tally of $838,935 for a impressive per theater average of $33,557.

Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae as NASA mathematicians who helped lauch men into space, opened in 15 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston — home of NASA's Johnson Space Center — and Hampton, Va., where the movie is set. Hidden Figures played to a diverse audience.

"It played well everywhere, and I don't think there was a theater where we weren't No. 1 or No. 2. The No. 1 theater was in Atlanta, followed by AMC Lincoln Square in New York City," said Fox domestic distribution Chris Aronson.

Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg's Boston Marathon bombing drama Patriots Day also posted strong numbers after opening Wednesday in seven theaters in Boston, Los Angeles and New York. The movie earned an estimated $241,304 for the four-day weekend for a six-day launch of $342,000, putting its location average at $34,472 and $48,857, respectively. The movie is from CBS Films and Lionsgate.

Martin Scorsese's Silence, bowing in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 23, is estimating a four-day gross of $180,000 for a location average of $32,750. Paramount, Scorsese's home studio, is releasing the film, starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson.

Pedro Almodovar's Juileta, from Sony Pictures Classics, fared nicely in its second weekend, posting a four-day holiday gross of $151,906 from six theaters for a location average of $25,318 and cume of $174,770. And on Christmas Day, Sony Classics opened fellow awards contender Toni Erdmann in three theaters. The film is estimating a two-day gross of $30,972 for a location average of $10,324.

Ben Affleck's Live by Night, a late awards entry, is faring poorly so far, opening on Christmas Day in Los Angeles and New York for a Sunday-Monday total of $48,844 and per screen average of $12,211.

J.A. Bayona's A Monster Calls — starring Rogue One's Felicity Jones and Liam Neeson — debuted Friday in four theaters, earning $42,170 for a per screen average of $10,542 for Focus Features.

Dec. 26, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised four-day weekend numbers.

Dec. 27, 11:30 a.m. Updated with final weekend numbers.

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