'Star Wars' Crosses $700 Million Domestically as 2016 is Off to a Strong Start
This first weekend of 2016 is the second largest January weekend of all-time. The top twelve grossed an estimated $204.6 million, $4.5 million shy of the current record, set in 2009 when Avatar was king of the world. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, however, has its eye on Avatar's crown as it now sits in second place, just $20 million behind Avatar's all-time domestic record, and over $1.5 billion worldwide. Also making headlines this weekend Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight expanded nationwide, Daddy's Home and Sisters prove people want comedy and Charlie Kaufman's stop-motion animated feature hit limited theaters.

Beginning with Star Wars, Disney is estimating an $88.3 million weekend, which brings the film up to $740.2 million after only 17 days in theaters. It's the fastest film to cross $700 million domestically, doing in 16 days what took Avatar 72. The film has broken 40 box office records (and those are just the records BoxOfficeMojo officially tracks at this time) and is currently the sixth highest grossing release worldwide with an estimated $1.51 billion. It will be in fourth place by the close of business tomorrow night.

As for the weekend itself, don't be surprised to see Star Wars jump up a few million. Rival studios project the weekend to be around $91 million, which would give it the largest January weekend of all-time. Disney is most likely being conservative with their numbers, estimating a rather steep 43.6% Sunday drop.

Coming up second for the second weekend in a row was the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy's Home, dropping only 25% for an estimated $29 million weekend. The film's cume is now up to an outstanding $93.6 million in just ten days on a reported $50 million budget. Impressive numbers and great timing on Paramount's part.

In third place we find Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, which most were expecting would top $20 million, but managed an estimated $16.2 million in its expansion from 100 theaters over Christmas weekend into 2,474 theaters this weekend. In all fairness, it did get a jumpstart on the weekend, expanding to 1,958 theaters on Wednesday, which most likely accounts for at least a portion of the smaller number. The R-rated, adult-targeted feature was up against college football bowl games all weekend, which is most likely the reason the Weinstein Co. got out in front a bit, knowing they'd be losing some eyeballs to football. The story here will be told next weekend and whether or not this one can hold on or if it will struggle to finish around $50-55 million.

What could prove to be The Hateful Eight's biggest test is surviving what may be an audience-stealing onslaught from another harsh, cold-wilderness tale, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant. In its second weekend the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer is still playing in four theaters and brought in another $450,000 for a $112,500 per theater average. The film expands into over 3,000 theaters next weekend and could be a much more attractive draw, thieving a portion of Hateful Eight's audience.

Looking over the rest of the top ten, another strong comedy in theaters right now is Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's Sisters. Dropping only 11.3% in its third weekend, the $30 million comedy is now up to an estimated $61.7 million and showing no signs of slowing. The Big Short also continues to play well in just under 1,600 theaters, adding another $9 million this weekend proving a mix of comedy, credit default swaps and an outstanding cast is something a portion of the moviegoing audience is interested in seeing.

In limited release, Charlie Kaufman's critically-approved stop-motion animated feature Anomalisa released in four New York and Los Angeles theaters with an estimated 140,000.

Janus Films re-released Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight into one theater in New York where it brought in $20,480. And GKIDs re-released Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday into one New York theater where the Isao Takahata-directed animated feature rung up $13,329.

Next weekend sees the release of The Forest, hoping to find that $15+ million The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death found during its January opening last year.

For a complete look at this weekend's estimates click here and look for actuals tomorrow afternoon.

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