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Holiday Box Office Winners and Losers: Yes, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Is a Blockbuster

Check out how "Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle," "The Greatest Showman," "Pitch Perfect 3," "Downsizing," and "Father Figures" fared with audiences over the weekend.

Fathier in THE LAST JEDI.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Jonathan Olley /Lucasfilm Ltd.

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is still the top film of the holiday season, despite a steep second-weekend box-office drop. The blockbuster will stay on top for the next two weekends on its way to a certain $500 million-plus domestic total, with more than double that worldwide ahead.

Vital to any analysis of the holiday figures is to keep in mind that when Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, it’s the one weekend of the year when grosses fall below the following week days. That’s unlike the last two years, when the first two Disney “Star Wars” entries saw their second weekends include the typically huge December 25 grosses. Christmas falls on Monday this year.

For example, this weekend’s Top Ten totaled about $158 million, which is down from $165 million last year. But both Friday and Saturday were up. That’s positive and suggests the final week of the year (always lucrative) will see an increase on 2016. But it looks likely that the full-year totals will still see a drop between 2.5-3 per cent.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

“Star Wars” vs. “Star Wars”

How does “The Last Jedi” compare to the last two “Star Wars” entries? “Rogue One” fell 59 per cent with Christmas Day included, and 40 per cent for “The Force Awakens,” when December 25 fell on Friday (that daily layout is the best possible for maximizing the three day totals). The “Last Jedi” gross is still ahead of “Rogue One” in terms of its raw total, though far less than the opening weekend total.

Any suggestions that the audience is collapsing for this entry or the franchise are premature. Like so much analysis of holiday grosses, we know less at this stage of release than normal. What happens starting Monday and then through New Year’s Day next week will tell us far more about its level of success.

Already in ten days at $365 million domestic, nearly $800 million worldwide (with China, not its strongest territory still ahead), this will easily top $500 million at home (by a strong margin) and likely hit around $1.2 billion total. That would be better than “Rogue One” and about 60 per cent of “Force.” Down perhaps, but not remotely out.

Early Christmas Winners and Losers

Studio wide openers are scattershot this time of the year. “Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony) and “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox) opened Wednesday, “Pitch Perfect 3” (Universal), “Downsizing” Paramount) and “Father Figures” (Warner Bros.) Friday, with “All the Money in the World” (Sony) wrapping up studio wide releases for the year on Christmas Day.

How movies hold could change dramatically as families and older audiences show up in bigger numbers than this weekend, as word of mouth affects ticket buying decisions. But what we see so far already suggests some winners and losers.

The “Jumanji” reboot stood out with a strong $34 million pre-Christmas weekend total and $50 million for five days, with about the same worldwide. It should maintain that position for the holiday period, so that combined with a thrifty sub-$100 million budget and international appeal means a year-end moneymaker for Sony, as well as a continuing franchise. It’s a clear winner.

“Pitch Perfect 3” isn’t headed to the high levels of its previous effort ($184 million domestic, nearly $300 million worldwide, with a $69 million weekend start), but with its mid-level budget and holiday placement should end up a mild success.

Downsizing Matt Damon



Such is not the case for two other openers. Alexander Payne’s $68-million “Downsizing,” his most expensive project (before expensive holiday marketing), took in under $5 million off mediocre reviews and a C Cinemascore. It will be lucky to total $20-million domestic. The ecological comedy might have more international appeal (officially it is a Norway-U.S. coproduction), but similar to their “mother!” Paramount made a bet on a major director that failed to pay off.

The R-rated Owen Wilson/Ed Helms comedy “Father Figures” did even worse. Its $3.2 million gross ranks fourth-worst among films opening over 2,500 theaters (in adjusted figures). The pre-holiday factors in, but it is still terrible. It dropped 14 per cent Saturday (about the same as “Downsizing”) but at least scored an A- Cinemascore (its reviews were the worst of the opening films). It boasts an economical $25-million budget (with expensive marketing likely higher). But “Father Figures” ends a very up-and-down year for Warner Bros., which like the other studios, eyes the looming Disney/Fox merger with real concern.

Hugh Jackman the Greatest Showman

“The Greatest Showman”

“The Greatest Showman,” Hugh Jackman’s chance to shine in a musical (thanks to a studio grateful for all the “X-Men” movies) falls in the middle. The family-friendly movie’s five-day total of $13 million amid positive audience response (A Cinemascore) could enhance it in the days ahead. Still its greatest appeal might be foreign, where Jackman is an even stronger in draw.

The only two wide-release holdovers in the Top Ten are animated films. On its second weekend, “Ferdinand” (20th Century Fox) fell to fifth, down 47 per cent but poised to come back during the week. Still at its $111 million cost, “Ferdinand” is not exactly a strong performer at this point. It is hurting the Disney/Pixar “Coco,” down 48 per cent. That gross of $5.2 million this weekend is only two-thirds of “Moana” last year, with about 500 fewer screens, despite a performance close to their holiday release last year. Figure it’s crunch time for theaters plus Disney’s demands for multiple print commitments for “The Last Jedi” are another factor.

Strong specialized showings abound both in the Top Ten (“Darkest Hour” and “The Shape of Water”) and beyond. Fox opened Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” in nine theaters to strong initial response.

Check back on Wednesday when we gauge Christmas Day and December 26th grosses, when the tea leaves will be far clearer.

The Top Ten Chart

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$68,486,000 (-69%) in 4,232 theaters (no change); PTA (per theater average): $16,183; Cumulative: $365,088,000

2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Sony) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 58; Est. budget: $90 million

$34,000,000 in 3,765 theaters; PTA: $9,031; Cumulative: $34,000,000

3. Pitch Perfect 3 (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A-; Metacritic: 40; Est. budget: $45 million

$20,451,000 in 3,447 theaters; PTA: $5,933; Cumulative: $20,451,000

4. The Greatest Showman (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 48; Est. budget: $84 million

$8,600,000 in 3,006 theaters; PTA: $2,681; Cumulative: $13,199,000

5. Ferdinand (20th Century Fox) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$7,050,000 (-47%) in 3,630 theaters (+9); PTA: $1,942; Cumulative: $

6. Coco (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #3

$5,208,000 (-49%) in 2,111 theaters (-1,044); PTA: $2,467; Cumulative: $161,327,000

7. Downsizing (Paramount) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Metacritic: 63; Est. budget: $68 million

$4,600,000 in 2,668 theaters; PTA: $1,724; Cumulative: $4,600,000

8. The Darkest Hour (Focus) Week 5; Last weekend #16

$4,105,000 (+384%) in 806 theaters (+722); PTA: $5,093; Cumulative: $6,957,000

9. Father Figures (Warner Bros.) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 23; Est. budget: $25 million

$3,200,000 in 2,902 theaters; PTA: $1,103; Cumulative: $3,200,000

10. The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) Week 4; Last weekend #12

$3,050,000 (+78%) in 726 theaters (+568); PTA: $4,201; Cumulative: $7,615,000

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