'Rogue One' Looks to Deliver One of the Top 15 Openings of All-Time
SATURDAY AM UPDATE: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivered an estimated $71 million on Friday, including $29 million from Thursday night previews. The question now is to wonder whether this one is going to play along the lines of a Twilight movie and settle in a little over $140 million for the weekend or a little like The Dark Knight Rises which also saw Thursday previews account for 40% of its Friday gross and ended up finishing the weekend at $160.8 million. At this point an opening just shy of $160 million seems a good bet.

Opening day audiences across the board gave Rogue One an "A" CinemaScore as it played to crowds that were 66% male versus 34% female of which 39% were under the age of 25.

New Line's Collateral Beauty opted not to hold Thursday night previews and delivered an estimated $2.4 million on Friday and is targeting a very weak $6.5 million three-day opening. Opening day audiences gave the film an "A-" CinemaScore as it played to crowds that were 41% male versus 59% female, of which 74% were over the age of 25.

The battle between the expanding La La Land and Manchester by the Sea is playing out as expected with La La currently holding the age despite playing in only 200 theaters compared to Manchester's 1,208. On Friday La La Land grossed an estimated $1.36 million and is looking at a three-day around $4.4 million.

By comparison, Manchester by the Sea brought in roughly $1.28 million, heading toward a weekend around $4 million.

You can check out all of the Friday estimates right here and we'll be back on Sunday morning with a complete wrap-up.

FRIDAY AM UPDATE: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivered the largest Thursday preview of 2016 last night, taking in $29 million as it heads into 4,157 theaters this weekend. This tops the $27.7 million brought in by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and $25 million from Captain America: Civil War from earlier this year and serves as the seventh largest preview gross of all-time.

Additionally, the film has brought in an estimated $33 million internationally after its first two days of release in 47 territories including the UK ($5.0M), Australia ($3.6M), Germany and France ($3.1M).

We'll have a look at Friday estimates tomorrow morning, but for now you can check out our weekend preview below.

WEEKEND PREVIEW: There may only be 16 days left in 2016, but one of the most anticipated movies of the year is only just hitting theaters this weekend. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will begin holding preview screenings tonight before setting its sights on what could end up the largest opening weekend of the year. Also hitting theaters this weekend is Will Smith's sentimental, holiday weeper Collateral Beauty to go along with the expansion of La La Land, which had the largest opening weekend per theater average of the year last weekend, and the nationwide expansion of Manchester by the Sea into over 1,200 theaters.

Without delay, the topic on top of everyone's mind this weekend is the latest film in the Star Wars franchise, the standalone feature Rogue One, a prequel to 1977's Star Wars telling the story of the Rebel Alliance's mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. As such, this is the first film in the franchise outside of the narrative flow of the episodic saga, which was restarted with last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which forces us to look at this one a little differently when attempting to forecast just how well it will do this weekend.

For starters, Force Awakens was clearly the biggest cinematic event feature since Avatar. It was the first Star Wars film in over ten years and it featured the return of Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO and even Luke Skywalker. While Rogue One maintains its attachment to the franchise with the Death Star and an appearance by Darth Vader, we're talking about a whole new cast of characters making this something more akin to a standalone Marvel film introducing a new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even that comparison, however, has its drawbacks as Marvel has come to release two films each year while the Star Wars franchise is now looking at one new film a year, though even that is a greater saturation of the marketplace compared to previous Star Wars features which were separated by at least three years each.

That said, the Marvel comparison does offer one of the best comparisons given this most recent era in theatrical releases with studios focusing so heavily on franchises and connected cinematic universes. In an attempt to forecast Rogue One's opening weekend we've come to look at Force Awakens on relatively equal footing with an Avengers film and Rogue One as a release similar to 2013's Iron Man 3 following the release of The Avengers, which opened with $207.4 million in 2012.

Following what was then a record-breaking opening for The Avengers, Iron Man 3 debuted with $174.1 million, a 16% drop by comparison. Should Rogue One follow suit we'd be looking at an opening around $208.1 million when compared to Force Awakens' $247.9 million opening, but that's only if we ignore the $57 million Force Awakens brought in from Thursday night previews.

For starters, preview grosses for Force Awakens were dramatically inflated by two factors: 1.) Pent up audience demand and 2.) the fact that $57 million included grosses from Star Wars marathon ticket sales in which theaters showed all six previous Star Wars films back-to-back-to-back leading up to Force Awakens at ticket prices that were upwards of $59.99 a piece.

As a result, as great as it is to point out the $57 million is a record number for Thursday night grosses, it's not a number directly comparable to the rest. Speaking of, while Force Awakens is one of only five films to bring in over $30 million in preview grosses three of the other five were midnight only screenings and even The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 waited until 10PM to begin preview screenings, while the Star Wars marathon screenings began ~17 hours early to ensure fans could be among the first to see Force Awakens on Thursday evening. How to account for this inflated result isn't easy, but to consider the $27.7 million Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice took in earlier this year and the $27.6 million for Avengers: Age of Ultron are the largest preview grosses outside of Force Awakens over the past couple years it offers some perspective as to what to expect.

Make no mistake, Rogue One is still an event feature and if we were to adjust the $208.1 million estimate we calculated above previously based on the drop from Avengers to Iron Man 3 and estimate preview grosses for Rogue One will come in around $25-30 million we're looking at a possible opening around $177-182 million, which would appear to be a relatively safe high-end bet. As for the low end, the studio has that covered, remaining conservative with an anticipated opening anywhere from $120-150 million. We can't go that low.

Rogue One is debuting in 4,157 theaters, of which over 3,500 will show the film in 3-D, ~400 are IMAX screens, nearly 200 D-Box locations and 500+ PLF locations. The 4,157 theaters is the widest release for a December release ever, it is playing in ~200 more 3-D locations than Force Awakens, 54 more D-Box locations and the 500+ PLF theaters is a record for a Disney release. Additionally, the film ranks as the #1 advance ticket-seller of 2016 for online ticket retailer Fandango.com and the second largest pre-selling title of all-time for the retailer behind only Force Awakens.

To look at IMDb page view data, Rogue One, to no surprise, is well behind where Force Awakens at the same point in the release cycle and playing behind the likes of Age of Ultron as well, which opened with $191.2 million. It is, however, neck-and-neck with where Iron Man 3 was leading up to its release and while these are comparisons to summer releases, that's more-or-less what Rogue One should be compared to and after crunching the numbers we're anticipating an opening around $165-175 million, which would make it one of the top ten opening weekends of all-time.

For some yearly context, here's a list of the top five opening weekends of 2016 (get the full list here):

  • Captain America: Civil War (BV) - $179,139,142 Opening / $408,084,349 Total Gross
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (WB) - $166,007,347 Opening / $330,360,194 Total Gross
  • Finding Dory (BV) - $135,060,273 Opening / $486,295,561 Total Gross
  • Suicide Squad (WB) - $133,682,248 Opening / $325,100,054 Total Gross
  • Deadpool (Fox) - $132,434,639 Opening / $363,070,709 Total Gross

Internationally, Rogue One opens day-and-date in all major international territories with the exception of South Korea (Dec. 28) and China (Jan. 6). To project just how well it will do internationally is virtually impossible, though anything around $130-150 million internationally would be reasonable to expect. For comparison, Force Awakens debuted to $281 million internationally and Avatar opened with $164.5 million. For a full list of international opening weekend record holders click here.

Moving to the rest of the week's titles, depending on how things shake out, it could be a tight race for second place as Disney's Moana should drop around 33% or so for a fourth weekend around $12.4 million, the question is whether or not Will Smith's Collateral Beauty can top it as reviews at RottenTomatoes give the film a miserable 17% rating while MetaCritic has it at just a 25. These aren't good figures for a film targeting an older audience as a bit of counter-programming opposite Rogue One.

Industry estimates peg Collateral Beauty's opening around $12.5 million as it debuts in 3,028 theaters. News from Fandango.com reports the film is outperforming Smith's Concussion, which opened with $10.5 million from 2,841 theaters last year and IMDb page views leading up to release were showing a similar trend until just recently, leading us to wonder if Rogue One is sucking a lot of the air out of the room or if the early swath of negative reviews caused interest to decline and failed to energize anyone the may have been on the fence. As a result, our forecast is just a bit below industry expectations at $11 million.

Looking at a fourth place finish is last weekend's ensemble comedy opener Office Christmas Party, which should hold on relatively well given its holiday theme and after receiving a "B" CinemaScore. Expect a drop around 46% or so for a second weekend around $9 million. And rounding out the top five is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which crossed the $200 million mark domestically this week and should add another $6 million or thereabouts this weekend.

Next we come to the recent Critics Choice winner for Best Film, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Editing, Song and Score. The film is, of course, Lionsgate and Summit's La La Land, which delivered one of the largest per theater openings of all-time last weekend from just five theaters and this weekend it expands into 200. In 2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel expanded into 304 theaters in its third weekend after debuting in four theaters. In its expansion Budapest brought in $6.78 million from those 304 theaters for an average of $22,329 per theater. A similar performance for La La Land would mean a $4.5 million second weekend and don't be surprised if it gets there with all the love it continues to receive from critics and audiences alike.

The question is whether that will be enough to top the nationwide expansion of Amazon and Roadside's Manchester by the Sea. Last weekend the film brought in $3.1 million from 366 theaters and it has continued to do well on the awards circuit, recently nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and three wins at the Critics Choice Awards. This weekend the film goes nationwide into 1,208 theaters and could very well deliver a $5+ million weekend making the box office performance of these two films something to watch.

In limited release Paramount will debut Denzel Washington's Fences in four theaters before it expands nationwide on Christmas Day. Additionally, The Orchard will release Pablo LarraĆ­n's Neruda to a limited number of theaters. The film was selected as Chile's official entry in the race for Best Foreign Language film at this year's Oscars.

Also keep an eye on Jackie, which is expanding into 86 theaters (+60) this weekend and should bring in $1+ million for the three-day.

Overall, this weekend will obviously be down from the same weekend last year which saw Force Awakens shatter opening weekend records and deliver the largest weekend for the combined top twelve ever. That said, should Mojo's forecast come to fruition the top twelve could be looking at a combined ~$225 million, which would make it one of the top 20 combined opening weekends ever.

This weekend's forecast is directly below. This post will be updated on Friday morning with Thursday night preview results followed by Friday estimates on Saturday morning, and a complete weekend recap on Sunday morning.

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (4,157 theaters) - $166.0 M
  • Moana (3,587 theaters) - $12.4 M
  • Collateral Beauty (3,028 theaters) - $11.0 M
  • Office Christmas Party (3,210 theaters) - $9.1 M
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (3,036 theaters) - $6.1 M
  • Manchester by the Sea (1,203 theaters) - $4.5 M
  • La La Land (200 theaters) - $4.4 M
  • Arrival (2,157 theaters) - $3.0 M
  • Doctor Strange (1,930 theaters) - $2.4 M
  • Nocturnal Animals (1,246 theaters) - $2.2 M

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