Box-Office Preview: 'Daddy's Home' Likely to Lead New Releases Braving 'Star Wars'

Daddy's Home Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

David O. Russell's 'Joy,' Will Smith NFL drama 'Concussion' and Adam McKay's 'The Big Short' also open nationwide in the hunt for awards attention; the pricey 'Point Break' may struggle.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens and a flurry of new movies look to make for a very merry Christmas at the North American box office.

J.J. Abrams' tentpole could earn more than $150 million in its second weekend domestically, yet another record. The current best is the $106 million grossed by this summer's Jurassic World in its second weekend. Through Tuesday, Force Awakens has earned $325.4 million domestically and a stunning $689.4 million worldwide.

The week between Christmas and New Year's weekend is the most lucrative corridor of the year in terms of moviegoing, and this year could see an all-time high in terms of revenue, fueled, of course, by Star Wars. Fandango is reporting record advance ticket sales for Christmas Day, when the box office surges in the afternoon.

Among the new offerings, Daddy's Home will likely place No. 2 with $20 million to $25 million from 3,271 theaters for the weekend. The $50 million broad comedy, from Paramount and Red Granite Pictures, stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and was produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Prods.

McKay and Paramount are on double duty this weekend as they also open awards contender The Big Short, directed by McKay and starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo. The financial dramedy has made a strong showing in its limited run, and expands Wednesday into 1,600 locations, a relatively small footprint. Big Short, costing $28 million, is tracking to open in the $10 million range for Paramount, New Regency and Pitt's Plan B.

Fox is also on double duty, between David O. Russell's Joy and Alejandro G. Inarruti's The Revenant, likewise both awards players. Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, opens Friday in more than 2,700 theaters opposite Daddy's Home, while Fox and New Regency's The Revenant goes out Friday in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles before expanding nationwide on Jan. 8.

Joy, costing $60 million to make, is tracking to open in the $15 million to $20 million range, a solid start considering titles can see huge multiples over the year-end holidays.

Sony and Village Roadshow's awards contender Concussion, starring Will Smith, likewise debuts Christmas Day across the country in 2,820 locations. The $35 million NFL drama is tracking to open in the same range as Joy, although Sony is suggesting $8 million-$10 million.

Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight is another awards hopeful to watch as it begins its exclusive run in 70mm film in 100 theaters across the country on Friday. The Weinstein Co. expands the revenge Western nationwide on Dec. 31.

A big question mark is Alcon Entertainment's big-budget Point Break, an extreme-sports extravaganza that's a loose remake of the classic 1991 film. The movie, rolling out in 2,910 theaters, will have to do sizable business to recoup its $100 million production budget and marketing spend (Alcon pays for marketing costs). Warner Bros. is distributing Point Break in the U.S., while Alcon sold off overseas rights.

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.