This weekend’s situation is simple- one alpha film, along with two underdogs trudging along sluggishly. Yeah, the one alpha film happens to be Star Wars AKA the most anticipated movie you can ever think of, at least in the past decade, whereas the underdogs are Sisters (that film with Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (that widely derided film nobody really wants). Of course, calling it an underdog would be far too kind, since the official definition (I’m only looking at Oxford here, don’t remind me about Merriam-Webster or anything else) happens to be ‘a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest’. Nope, neither of these films have ANY chance. Not even by the slimmest of margins. Okay, lets get right into the meaty part of this article:
This week’s champ, as if it needed any debate whatsoever, goes to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. After the $4.0 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney all the way back in 2012, Disney has made sure to earn the hell out of this property (as if there was gonna be any debate on what whoever possesses the force would do with the franchise), so nope, we don’t just get merchandise and toys, but we get a brand new canon to follow, new films, new games, new theme park attractions, and anything else you can possibly expect. So, how big was Star Wars? Lets just put it this way- upon opening, Star Wars handily earned $57 million from preview shows (which started at 7pm and ended at 6am, if you were wondering about the time range), beating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which previously brought in $43.5 million way back in 2011. In comparison with other recent blockbusters, Jurassic World earned $18.5 million in preview showings before its big Friday official wide release, so yeah, you got the picture. Of course, you have to try in the fact that Star Wars is far more hyped than any other film in recent memory (more so than Harry Potter), and you expect front-loadedness. Yeah, that’s what happened, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens ‘merely’ earned $119.1 million on Friday, including Thursday previews- make no mistake, that’s by far the biggest Friday gross ever (or single day gross ever, or Friday gross in December, or whatever), and the first ever three digit single day gross in the history of the United States. Of course, that was incredibly front-loaded, since Star Wars, on Friday itself, only earned $62.1 million, lesser than the $64.3 million earned by Jurassic World on Friday, minus the previews. Yeah, after an incredible beginning, Star Wars started lagging behind, and had it stayed sturdy not unlike what Jurassic World did, it would have grabbed $255.1 million on day 1. Yeah, that’s enough for the biggest opening weekend of all time. Sorry though, folks, there’s always Star Wars Episode VIII.
Anyways, that’s 47.9% of the Friday gross attributed to preview showings. In comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (which also suffered from immense front-loading and fan anticipation), earned $43.5 million at Midnight showings (beginning at 12am), and earned $91.1 million on its first day- that’s 47.75% of its Friday gross attributed to Midnight showings. Okay, at least from the get-go, both franchises share a rather similar pattern in the form of front-loading, so how did the rest of the weekend go?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, at least according to estimates (though some sources, like Deadline, are stating that Disney has been keeping on the conservative end, and the actuals might edge out higher), show that Star Wars dropped 42.7% on Saturday to $68.3 million (In comparison, Jurassic World dipped 15% to $69.6 million). If you take away that preview figure, Star Wars jumped 9.98% (and Jurassic World jumped 8.2% too, while Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 dipped 10.9%). Meanwhile, on Sunday, Star Wars dipped a further 11.3% to $60.55 million, which is a drop much smaller than Jurassic World’s 17.9% to $57.2 million, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Part 2’s 15.8% to $35.7 million, Avengers’ 18% dip to $57 million and identical to Avenger’s Age of Ultron’s 11% dip to $50.3 million, albeit with much higher Sunday grosses. Yeah, Star Wars will have to settle for the second biggest Saturday, second biggest pure Friday, but at least it has the Sunday record smashed. At least, though, it did break the record which matters the most- the opening weekend record, which stands at $248.0 million. That’s despite opening in merely 4134 theaters, nowhere close to the top in terms of biggest openings ever. Star Wars is already the 7th biggest film of the year, and 96th of all time; has already flew past Hobbit’s $84.6 million in less than a day (or probably at midday Friday), proving that December is a lucrative season to open mega-blockbusters, and within 21 hours, has already flew past the $100 million mark (Jurassic World and every other film took minimum 1 day, so that’s amazing). In terms of statistics, 47% went for 3D, IMAX earned $20.9 million, 58% of moviegoers are male, 63% are over 25, and they all awarded it an A cinema score (A+ for the females). Combine that with international earnings, which also broke numerous records (especially in Europe, where several territories including the UK registered record opening weekends), and we have a $528.9 million worldwide opening weekend (international accounts for $281 million). Of course, that’s with every territory accounted for, save China, India and Greece, which is coming up in the next few weeks. Star Wars has a two week Christmas-New Year period to dominate, especially domestically, where many schools are expected to go off soon, and weekend to weekend holds are expected to be far sweeter (daily grosses too). What that means is simple- Star Wars might not have attained the biggest Saturday gross, yeah, but weekday grosses? Or second weekend or third weekend grosses? Star Wars has that covered (hopefully it isn’t gonna be even more front-loaded). And since pre-order ticket sales show that the third biggest day for pre-sales happen to be on Christmas Day, don’t expect next weekend to be miniscule. And making things better are the relatively weak offerings at the cineplexes for at least a month, and the fantastic word of mouth and 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and we have a straight path to domination. Now, the big question remains- can it beat Avatar? We shall see over the next few weeks.
Okay, moving on to the other new openers- the sad thing being, whenever there’s a record breaker or behemoth at the top, whatever comes below always gets forgotten. Alvin and the Chipmunks edged out Sisters for second, with $14.3 million. Expected kids to come to this in droves over the next few weeks, although 20th Century Fox should be worried about the future prospects of the series- the series has seen smaller and smaller earnings over the course of four films, with the first three films earning $217.3, $219.6 and $133.1 million respectively. The latest installment isn’t even going to come close to $100 million, and the tepid reviews aren’t helping either. Sisters, meanwhile, is benefitting from the Tina Fey-Amy Poehler fan club and comedy fans who simply want counter programming, earning $13.9 million. 71% is over the age of 25, and 79% were woman, if you were wondering. Expect huge multiples over the upcoming weeks. The next two on the top five list go to Hunger Games and Creed, which dipped 48.5% and 50.5% to $5.9 million and $5.0 million for respective estimated cumulative grosses of $254.5 million and $87.8 million. The rest of the top 10, meanwhile, can be glimpsed at below.
Before proceeding there, though, here’s a look at how the year is going, compared to past years. At the moment, 2015 is up 4.9% from 2014, down 0.2% from 2013, 0.2% from 2012, and 6.7% from 2011, so that’s fantastic news. The top 12 this weekend earned $300.55 million, a new record, and up 140.7% over last year’s $126.965 million, with the top 12 slate alone surpassing $300 million for the first time ever. The force is stronger than before, after all. Anyways, here’s the top 10, for your savoring:
(NOTE: New films are bolded)
|Rank||Last Week Rank||Film||Weekend Gross||Change||Total Gross||Per-Theater Average||Week|
|1||–||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||$247,966,675||–||$247,966,675||$59,982||1|
|2||–||Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip||$14,287,159||–||$14,287,159||$3,911||1|
|4||1||The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2||$5,892,683||-48.4%||$254,481,457||$2,221||5|
|6||3||The Good Dinosaur||$4,350,285||-57.8%||$96,664,353||$1,579||4|
|8||2||In the Heart of the Sea||$3,484,270||-68.5%||$18,619,365||$1,123||2|