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'Rogue One' to Top 'Sing', 'Passengers', 'Assassin's Creed' & Many More Over Christmas Weekend

by Brad Brevet
 

 
December 21, 2016

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Fox's Why Him? brought in $975,000 from Thursday previews in 2,380 locations. This compares to the $950,000 Office Christmas Party brought in from Thursday previews before opening with $16.8 million just a couple weekends ago. Sisters was also another R-rated December comedy, which debuted with $769,000 from Thursday previews and opened with $13.9 million. The difference between those two comparisons and Why Him? is neither was debuting over Christmas weekend. The R-rated comedy begins playing in 2,916 theaters tonight.

Elsewhere, Universal's Sing has topped $20 million in its first two days in release as it enters the three-day weekend. Sony's Passengers brought in an estimated $3.2 million yesterday as its three-day cume climbs to $7.3 million and Fox's Assassin's Creed took third place at Thursday's box office with approximately $2.87 million and its cume now stands at $7.5 million after two days in release.

Meanwhile, still leading the charge is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which added approximately $16.8 million yesterday to its cume which now stands over $220 million.

We'll continue to offer updates throughout the weekend with a full weekend recap on Tuesday and our charts will be updated once all Wednesday numbers have come in.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: It's going to be a unique weekend with Christmas Day falling on Sunday, something that last took place in 2011 and before that 2005. Making things even more interesting are the three films—Passengers, Sing and Assassin's Creed—that go into wide release today, December 21, the wide release of Fox's comedy Why Him? on Friday, December 23, and then the nationwide expansion of Fences into ~2,200 theaters and La La Land into 733 on Christmas Day. As if that wasn't enough, this weekend also features limited releases from Martin Scorsese, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, J.A. Bayona and more. Oh, and a little film called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story enters its second weekend after a $155 million debut just six days ago. All in all, there is more than enough (maybe too much?) for moviegoers to choose from over the next six days and a lot to unpack as we attempt to forecast how it will all shake out.

To begin, it's expected Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will finish #1 for a second weekend. Following its $155 million opening last weekend it has followed that up with the fourth largest Monday and Tuesday performances in December as its global cume now stands at $357 million since debuting internationally one week ago. Domestically, we're anticipating a drop around 55% and a three-day around $70 million using The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as our main title for comparison.

Catching Fire opened with $158 million the weekend ahead of Thanksgiving and dipped 53.1% the following weekend. Aiding our comparison, IMDb page view data shows Rogue One playing similarly to Catching Fire leading to, and through release. Additionally, like Catching Fire which faced off against the second weekend of Frozen in 2013, Rogue One will be up against a strong animated competitor in the new release of Illumination and Universal's Sing, which debuts in 4,022 theaters today (December 21) and is looking at a hefty start to the holiday season.

Sing began playing in theaters yesterday evening at 6PM and brought in $1.71 million from preview screenings in 2,570 theaters. By comparison, this is behind the $2.6 million Moana brought in on Tuesday evening just last month but ahead of the $1.3 million Pixar's The Good Dinosaur brought in on Tuesday evening ahead of its Thanksgiving week release last year, debuting to $39.1 million over the three-day weekend and $55.4 million for the five-day holiday weekend, a figure Sing could be looking to hit over the film's three-day, suggesting a $70 million five-day opening.

The big question for Sing, as with all of the titles we'll be looking at today, is just how well it will perform on Christmas Eve and just how well it will improve on Christmas Day. Looking at data over the last 20 years, Christmas Eve features the largest daily drop on average for films ranking in the top ten*. Consequentially, while Christmas Eve features the largest drops on average, Christmas Day features the second largest day-to-day gains on average.

Using the same, twenty year set of results, animated titles drop, on average, 33.5% on Christmas Eve while averaging a 29.1% improvement on Christmas Day. For non-animated titles, the average Christmas Eve drop over the last 20 years has been 40% while Christmas Day gains are a whopping 118.1%. Just how much of an effect this will have on this year's crop of films remains to be seen, though performances for titles such as Rogue One and new releases including Passengers and Assassin's Creed, which feature overlapping target demographics, could really be impacted.

In fact, looking at a likely third place finish is Sony's Passengers, a $110 million budgeted production starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The film was frequently mentioned in the trades during pre-production as it came out just how much was not only being spent on the film, but just how much of that budget was going toward its two stars. Will it pay off?

Early footage shown at CinemaCon drew comparisons that had many calling it "Titanic in space". The reviews, however, have suggested otherwise with Kate Erbland of indieWire quoted as saying, "Titanic in space? No, but it's certainly a disaster." In fact, of the 30 "Top Critics" at RottenTomatoes, only five have given the film a "fresh" rating as it currently holds an overall 30% rating on the site. At Metacritic the score is a 40, which, while rough, may not spell complete disaster... yet.

Passengers kicked off its release last night with $1.2 million from Tuesday evening previews in ~2,400 theaters. Equitable comparisons aren't necessarily available as the number of Tuesday preview grosses are limited, but this gross is behind the $1.4 million Creed took in before heading into the long, Thanksgiving holiday weekend, ultimately delivering a $29.6 million three-day and $42.1 million over its first five days in release. A similar opening for Passengers would be in line with studio projections, which currently anticipate a $30-40 million five-day opening. As far as a forecast is concerned, Sony's estimations seem relatively safe targets as of right now with a three-day looking like anything from $22-26 million. Audience response is going to be the big story here as the film's storyline is what has come under the most scrutiny from critics, but if general audiences feel differently this one could have some long legs thanks in large part to featuring two of today's highest profile stars.

Looking at a fourth place finish and playing in nearly 600 fewer theaters than Passengers, is Fox's release of the video game adaptation Assassin's Creed starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. It's no secret video game adaptations, big budget or otherwise, have never really managed to make it to the big screen with a large amount of box office success. Outside of the Resident Evil franchise, which will release the sixth (and supposedly final) film this coming January, there hasn't been much staying power for video game features. This year did feature the successful transition for a video game app going to the big screen in The Angry Birds Movie and while Warcraft wasn't a hit domestically, the $160 million budgeted feature did save some face internationally where it grossed nearly 90% of its $433.5 million worldwide haul. Just where does Assassin's Creed fit in?

Well, like other video game adaptations the critics have largely panned the film to the tune of a 19% RottenTomatoes rating and score of 37 on Metacritic. No surprise there. The film did hold Tuesday previews last night, bringing in $1.35 million from 2,470 theaters, which puts it behind the $2.3 million from Tuesday previews of last year's Terminator: Genisys if that can be considered a valid comparison. As for expectations this weekend, industry expectations anticipate something in the area of $30 million over the full, six-day period, a rather slow start for a $125 million production that has already received a critical drubbing. For our part we're anticipating a three-day weekend in the realm of $14 million, which should mirror that $30 million six-day once all is said and done.

Rounding out the top five should be Fox's R-rated comedy Why Him? starring James Franco and Bryan Cranston. Unlike the three other films we just focused on, this one debuts on Friday with Thursday previews being held at 7PM. Industry expectations are all over the place for this one, but using the law of averages for R-rated comedies opening in ~2,800 theaters with a Metacritic score around 40 we're looking at a three-day weekend in the range of $11.9-14.2 million and those numbers are hard to argue with.

Elsewhere we have La La Land and Fences, both of which won't expand until Christmas day, which makes projecting their overall weekend that much more difficult. La La Land expanded into 200 theaters last weekend and delivered a top ten finish with $4.1 million. On Friday and Saturday it will continue to play in 200 theaters while expanding into 733 theaters (+533) on Sunday where it could bring in $2-3 million based on performances from previous Oscar contenders such as The King's Speech, which brought in $2.1m from 700 theaters on Christmas Day or The Imitation Game, which brought in $3 million from 747 theaters. Or, if we were being pessimistic, it could play closer to the $1 million The Descendants brought in from 753 theaters in 2011. We're banking on something closer to King's Speech and a three-day in the realm of $5+ million.

As for Denzel Washington's Fences, which had a modest start last weekend in four theaters, it's jump to ~2,200 theaters on Christmas Day will be looking for help from the critical reception it has received so far, which includes a score of 77 on Metacritic and 95% on RottenTomatoes with a lot of love for Washington and a possible Oscar-winning performance from Viola Davis. Were it a normal weekend and the film was opening in 2,200 theaters on Friday we'd be looking at a weekend around $10+ million with this kind of buzz, but with the film playing in four theaters on Friday and Saturday we have to focus on Christmas Day with comparable titles such as The Good Shepherd, which brought in $4.2 million on Christmas Day from 2,215 theaters after opening three days earlier and Cold Mountain, which opened on Christmas Day back in 2003 and brought in $4.5 million. Similarly, Will Smith's Concussion debuted on Christmas Day last year with $4.2 million, providing all the signals Fences is likely to top $4 million for the three-day and around $7.5-8 million for the four-day.

Other releases to keep an eye on include UTV's release of Dangal into 331 theaters where it could generate up to $1.5 million for the three-day. Additionally, Fox will debut Hidden Figures into 25 theaters; Lionsgate is releasing Patriots Day into seven theaters; Julieta will premiere in six theaters; Ben Affleck's Live by Night debuts in four theaters as does J.A. Bayona's A Monster Calls and Martin Scorsese's Silence. Finally, Sony Classics will release Toni Erdmann in three theaters and A24's 20th Century Women will get a limited bow.

In all, the next six days are going to be interesting and we will be updating this article along the way. Make note we won't have estimated grosses for the Sunday openers until Monday morning and we won't have actuals for the entire six-day frame until Tuesday of next week.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated throughout the week followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, a brief update on Sunday and/or Monday and a deeper look at the holiday weekend on Tuesday.

NOTE: Where films are shown to have two sets of theaters counts, the first is for December 23-24 and the second is for December 25.

THREE-DAY (DEC. 23-25) FORECAST

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (4,157 theaters) - $69.8 M
  • Sing (4,022 theaters) - $46 M
  • Passengers (3,478 theaters) - $24 M
  • Assassin's Creed (2,902 theaters) - $13.5 M
  • Why Him? (~2,800 theaters) - $11 M
  • Moana (2,784/2,687 theaters) - $8 M
  • La La Land (205/733 theaters) - $5.1 M
  • Collateral Beauty (~3,069 theaters) - $4.8 M
  • Office Christmas Party (2,679/2,441 theaters) - $4.4 M
  • Fences (4/~2,200 theaters) - $4.3 M

* Based on films ranked in the top ten from 1996-2015, playing in over 500 theaters and gained no more than 500 theaters and lost no more than 500 theaters that week.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.



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