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The rebellion has succeeded.
Stand-alone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story captured $155 million in its domestic debut from 4,157 theaters and $135.5 million internationally for a global launch of $290.5 million — the second-best showing of all time for the month of December behind last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Overseas, the film debuted No. 1 everywhere and posted the top opening of the year to date in a slew of countries, including the U.K. with $21 million including previews. It has yet to open in China and South Korea.
The movie’s opening performance is a key victory for Lucasfilm and Disney as they look to expand the Star Wars franchise beyond the core episodic films. Critics have generally embraced Rogue One, while the film earned an A CinemaScore from U.S. audiences. Males made up between 59 percent and 64 percent of the audience, according to various polling services.
Mid-December has never been known for huge openings, since many consumers are distracted by holiday preparations and parties; instead, titles can enjoy huge multiples. Force Awakens changed all of that when launching to $247.9 million, the top domestic bow of all time for any month of the year. (Previously, no December event film, including 2009’s Avatar, had taken in north of $85 million.)
Rogue One — which doesn’t have the same nostalgia factor as Force Awakens — cost $200 million to make and was directed by Gareth Edwards. The story is set before the events in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope and follows a group of rebels, led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who obtain the plans for the Death Star, which are later given to Princess Leia. Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker also star.
“This is a massive opening and the second-best by a wide margin. And it sets us up in a perfect way for the lucrative holiday period ahead,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis. “It is a litmus test for what these stand-alone movies can be, both from a story perspective and a commercial perspective.”
Rogue One did robust business in Imax and premium large-format theaters. Globally, Imax locations took in $29.2 million, including $19 million in North America, where Rogue One was the first movie to be released on more than 400 screens. And 550 PLF screens accounted for $17.9 million of the total North American gross.
In the $36 million film, Smith plays a successful New York advertising executive struck by tragedy who writes letters to love, time and death — and gets a response. Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris co-star in the movie, which was savaged by critics but nabbed an A- CinemaScore from audiences.
Collateral Beauty looked to serve as counterprogramming to Rogue One. Females made up nearly 60 percent of the audience, with 58 percent of all ticket buyers over the age of 35.
“The attendance was much lower than what we wanted and of course we’re disappointed,” said Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein. “I’m hopeful that the older audience this was made for will turn out come Christmas Day.”
Overseas, Collateral Beauty opened to $4.6 million from 16 markets, led by Mexico ($1.6 million) and Russia ($1.4 million), for a global bow of $11.6 million.
At the specialty box office, Manchester by the Sea expanded nationwide after nabbing a slew of Globe Globe and SAG Award nominations earlier in the week. The Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions release earned $4.2 million from 1,208 theaters for a domestic total of $14 million.
Manchester narrowly beat awards rival La La Land to place No. 6.
From Lionsgate, La La Land dazzled in grossing $4 million from only 200 cinemas for a 10-day domestic total of $5.3 million. The musical earned seven Golden Globe noms, the most of any film. Offshore, La La Land earned another $4.7 million from 14 markets for a foreign total of $11.3 million, including an impressive $9.5 million in South Korea.
New specialty openings in the U.S. included Paramount’s Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington opposite Viola Davis. The drama opened to $128,000 from four theaters in Los Angeles and New York for a screen average of $32,000. Fences, which cost north of $20 million to produce, expands nationwide on Christmas Day.
After Rogue One, the other big player internationally was Legendary Entertainment’s period monster epic The Great Wall, which opened to $67.4 million in China. The high-profile China-U.S. production stars Matt Damon and was directed by Zhang Yimou.
Also overseas this weekend, Illumination Entertainment and Universal’s Sing took in $6.6 million from 15 markets for an early foreign total of $17.4 million. The animated tentpole bows in the U.S. on Wednesday.
Weekend Box Office 12/18/16
|1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story||$155M||$155.1M||4,157||1|
|3. Office Christmas Party||$8.6M||$31.7M||3,210||2|
|4. Collateral Beauty||$7.1M||$7.1M||3,028||1|
|5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them||$5.1M||$207.7M||3,036||5|
|6. Manchester by the Sea||$4.2M||$14.1M||1,208||5|
|7. La La Land||$4.1M||$5.3M||200||2|
|9. Doctor Strange||$2.2M||$226.3M||1,930||7|
|10. Nocturnal Animals||$1.4M||$8.8M||1,246||5|
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