Box Office: 'Rise of Skywalker' Flies to $29M on Monday, 'Cats' Falls to No. 5

Courtesy of Lucasfilm
'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'

The holiday marquee gets even more crowded on Christmas Day when 'Little Women,' 'Spies in Disguise' and 'Uncut Gems' unfurl nationwide.

With kids sprung from school, J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker flew to $29.2 million Monday, the sixth-best showing of all time and ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

And so begins the most lucrative two weeks of the year at the box office, when weekdays can turn in weekend-like numbers once presents are unwrapped Christmas Day. (On Dec. 16, for example, Jumanji: The Next Level took in less than $4 million on its first Monday, compared with $7.3 million yesterday.)

Rise of Skywalker, which opened to $177.4 million domestically over the weekend — slightly ahead of Sunday's estimated $175.5 million — will have no trouble staying atop the chart and hopes to make up precious ground after posting the lowest domestic opening of the trilogy it closes out.

Globally, the movie soared past the $400-million mark on Monday to $433.4 million in worldwide ticket sales, including $206.6 million domestically and $226.8 million overseas.

Fellow Monday record-holders are Black Panther ($40.1 million), Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($40.1 million), Avengers: Endgame ($36.9 million), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($32.1 million) and Force Awakens ($31.4 million). Rogue One's haul was on Dec. 26, 2016, a federal holiday, while Black Panther's first Monday was President's Day.

Two years ago, Rian Johnson's Last Jedi grossed $26.5 million on Christmas, a Monday (the holiday itself can be tough in terms of traffic).

Domestically, Skywalker scored the third-biggest December debut of all time behind Abrams' Force Awakens in 2015 ($248 million) and Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017 ($220 million), which divided fans. Challenges facing Skywalker include mixed reviews.

Sony's Jumanji should likewise remain a strong all-audience draw throughout the holidays, particularly after the troubled debut of Tom Hooper's family friendly Cats.

The adaptation of the hit Broadway opened in fourth place over the weekend with a toothless $6.6 million after getting neutered with a C+ CinemaScore and skewering reviews.

And, in an unheard of move for a movie already in release, the studio has sent thousands of theaters an updated print with "improved visual effects" at the request of Hooper, who finished the movie at the 11th hour.

Cats placed No. 5 on Monday with an estimated $1.4 million behind Skywalker, Jumanji 2, Frozen 2 and Knives Out. Universal remains hopeful that the movie will get into the yuletide spirit.

Greta Gerwig's Little Women — one of three new films opening nationwide Christmas Day — hopes to be the No. 1 choice for females and is tracking to post a pleasing five-day debut of $19 million to $23 million, although Sony is being more conservative, noting the crowded marquee.

Fox/Disney's kid-friendly animated pic Spies in Disguise, starring Will Smith and Tom Holland, also rolls out Dec. 25. It is tracking in the same range as Little Women.

After playing for two weeks in select theaters, A24 will expand Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler, nationwide. The critically acclaimed specialty pic is tracking to open in the $10 million to $13 million range for the five days, but will have to compete for adult moviegoers with Lionsgate's Fox News drama Bombshell, which expanded this past weekend with $5.1 million.

The holiday battle to win over the hearts and minds of adults in markets such as New York City and Los Angeles will be especially fierce: on Christmas Day, Universal opens Sam Mendes' 1917 in select cinemas.