Forecast: January 2016 Looks to Get Off to a Sizzling Start

by Brad Brevet

December 31, 2015

UPDATED: The first draft of this weekend's predictions forgot to take into account Thursday preview numbers for Star Wars. Predictions have been updated as a result.

2016 is looking to get off to a wonderful start. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is entering its third frame and is now joined by the wide release of Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, playing in over 2,400 theaters. The largest first weekend of the new year came in 2010 when Avatar was playing for its third weekend and the top twelve grossed over $209 million. This weekend should top that number, delivering yet another box office record during Star Wars' impressive run.

The Force Awakens dropped 39.8% last weekend and has since crossed $625 million in record time. That 39.8% drop, however, takes into account the massive $57 million in Thursday night previews from opening weekend, take those Thursday numbers out of that opening weekend total and last weekend's drop was only 21.9%, suggesting a drop this weekend around 30% is very likely for another weekend north of $100 million. That's more than enough to top Avatar's current record for the largest third weekend of only $68.4 million, but more importantly will open up the extreme possibility the film will best Avatar's all-time domestic record of $760 million.

Second place is looking like a shoot out between last weekend's wonderful performance from the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg comedy Daddy's Home and Tarantino's Hateful Eight. A rather pessimistic, 32% drop for Daddy's Home would signal a $26.3 million second weekend and Hateful Eight would need to top $10,650 per theater to best it.

Tarantino's 2012 release, Django Unchained, followed its Christmas Day opening with $30.1 million on its first full weekend, but reviews for Hateful haven't been as lofty as those for Django or Inglourious Basterds before it. Hateful did get off to a great start this past Christmas with a $46,107 per theater run in 100 theaters where the film was screened in a 70mm roadshow version that ran approximately 20 minutes longer than the version going wide this weekend. The question is to wonder how much the "special" nature of those screenings affected audience attendance. Does the wide release of the film in a more condensed version ,along with not-so-glowing reviews, somehow diminish audience interest?

The weekend filled with college football festivities may also take away from Hateful's weekend potential, though it may also signal hopes for a strong hold next weekend. A forecast just over $10,000 per theater for a $24.9 million weekend is appropriate, but that would seem to be the floor for this release as anything at, or above, $30 million wouldn't be a surprise.

Expect solid holds for both Joy and Sisters, the latter of which is playing extremely well, increasing 1.9% last weekend. Alternatively, both Concussion and Point Break don't seem to be having much of an impact.

In limited release, The Revenant remains in four theaters this weekend, but will expand into over 3,000 theaters next weekend where it could take a bite out of the Hateful Eight. Last weekend it opened with a massive $118,640 per theater average and it will be interesting to see how well it plays once it goes wide as that reported $135 million budget looms.

On the smaller side of things, Charlie Kaufman's stop motion animated feature Anomalisa opened yesterday in four theaters and brought in an estimated $45,000. It will continue to play in those four New York and LA theaters as it is currently hoping to play strong in the animated race at the Oscars.

This weekend's predictions are directly below. Have a safe and happy New Year and we'll see you on Sunday with the results!

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (4,134 theaters) - $104.4 M
  • Daddy's Home (3,342 theaters) - $26.34 M
  • The Hateful Eight (2,474 theaters) - $24.9 M
  • Joy (2,924 theaters) - $12.76 M
  • Sisters (2,978 theaters) - $11.64 M
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks The Road Chip (3,474 theaters) - $9.86 M
  • The Big Short (1,588 theaters) - $8.95 M
  • Point Break (2,910 theaters) - $7.06 M
  • Concussion (2,841 theaters) - $6.82 M
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (1,485 theaters) - $3.96 M
NOTE: We have still not received official theater counts for Point Break.

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