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Force Awakens rocketed to $49.3 million from 4,134 theaters on Friday, blasting past the $24.6 million opening of Sherlock Holmes on Dec. 25, 2009 to secure the biggest Christmas Day gross of all time. It also raced past the $400 million mark domestically to finish the holiday with $440.4 million domestically.
Overseas, the Disney and Lucasfilm release has now earned $449.9 million for a global haul of $890.3 million. Sometime over the weekend, it will become the fastest film in history to cross $1 billion worldwide.
For the weekend, conservative estimates show Force Awakens earning $150 million-plus in North America. It’s also the biggest second weekend in history (Jurassic World is the current record-holder with $106 million). Overall, Christmas Day revenue at the North American box office crossed $100 million for the first time ever; record levels are also expected for the holiday weekend, or north of $300 million.
J.J. Abrams’ movie is hardly the only choice. Four new movies opened nationwide on Christmas Day — Daddy’s Home, Joy, Concussion and Point Break — while Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant open in select theaters. Hateful Eight debuts exclusively in 70mm film in 100 theaters, while The Revenant opens in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
Among the wide players, Daddy’s Home and Joy are looking like the biggest winners so far in the face of competition from Force Awakens, with Daddy’s Home in particular overperforming.
The comedy, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, placed No. 2 on Christmas Day with $15.7 million from 3,271 locations, including $1.2 million in Thursday-night previews. The $50 million comedy, from Paramount and Red Granite, has a strong chance of grossing $40 million-$45 million for the weekend. Daddy’s Home, earning a B+ CinemaScore, was produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Prods.
Directed by David O. Russell and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joy is also off to a strong start, coming in No. 3. The Fox dramedy, likewise receiving a B+ CinemaScore, earned $6.9 million from 2,896 theaters on Friday for a projected $21 million weekend. (Fox is also releasing The Revenant.)
Joy, costing $60 million to produce, is among a handful of high-profile awards contenders that have waited until the year-end holidays to open, a crop that includes Hateful Eight and Revenant.
Another is Sony and Village Roadshow’s Concussion, starring Will Smith. Nabbing an A CinemaScore, the NFL drama placed No. 5 on Friday after holdover Sisters. The movie earned $4.3 million for a projected $13 million weekend. Heading into Christmas, tracking suggested the $35 million movie would open in the high-teens, although Sony was much more conservative in suggesting $8 million-$10 million.
Alcon Entertainment’s extreme-sports extravaganza Point Break is out-and-out struggling, considering its $100 million budget. A loose remake of the classic 1991 film, the movie grossed an estimated $4.1 million Friday from 2,910 theaters after receiving a B CinemaScore for an $11 million-plus weekend.
Point Break has already opened in China, where it has grossed $40 million to date, and several other smaller Asian markets for a foreign cume so far north of $43 million. Alcon has suffered a string of box-office disappointments, including last year’s big-budget flop Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp.
McKay and Paramount are on double duty this weekend between Daddy’s Home and awards contender The Big Short, directed by McKay and starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo. The financial dramedy made a strong showing in its limited run before expanding nationwide Wednesday into 1,585 locations.
Big Short, costing $28 million and earning an A- CinemaScore, is tracking to open to a promising $14 million or more for the five days after earning $3.8 million on Christmas Day. Some box-office observers show the movie grossing $11.7 million for the three-day weekend, a promising start considering its modest footprint in terms of theater count.
At the specialty box office, Hateful Eight and The Revenant are soaring. Tarantino’s revenge Western rode to a $1.9 million Friday, with many of the 100 theaters selling out. The film is projected to gross $4.5 million for the weekend for a stellar location average of $44,768.
The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, grossed $171,758 Friday for an estimated $545,000 weekend, putting its location average at $136,250, the best showing of 2015 to date.
The week between Christmas and New Year’s weekend is the most lucrative corridor of the year in terms of moviegoing, and the new films are hoping for strong multiples even with Force Awakens dominating much of the marketplace.
Dec. 26, 7:45 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.
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