Look, I know we all want to talk about Star Wars: The Force Awakens but we’re not quite there yet. Besides, most of the films in this weekend’s top ten have already been badly overshadowed by Star Wars 7, so why insult them further by stealing their last moment in the sun? Don’t worry, we’ll get to the force in just a bit.
But first, due homage must be paid to the current number one film in North America: Mockingjay – Part 2. The final chapter in The Hunger Games franchise took in an estimated $11.3 million this weekend, making it only the second film of 2015 to spend four consecutive weeks on top of the box office. Furious 7 also had four in a row back in April, while, more recently, The Martian secured four nonconsecutive number one titles.
At least in terms of box office wins, Mockingjay 2 is now on par with 2012’s The Hunger Games: the only other title in the franchise to rule the box office for four straight weeks. But after comparing actual grosses, Mockingjay 2 still trails its predecessors. The film’s domestic total of $244.5 million is 12% behind Mockingjay 1 at the same point in its run, while Part 2’s global earnings lag about $190 million behind the 2014 release’s final total.
After pulling out a narrow victory on Friday, In the Heart of the Sea fell to second place on the weekend chart with an estimated $11 million. One week ago, the nautical drama was expected to sail into first place with at least $15 million. But that was before reviews for the film, directed by Ron Howard, came flooding in. The film has a current Rotten Tomato score of 43%, though CinemaScore audiences gave it a more promising B+. Still, there’s little chance that enough people will find In the Heart of the Sea in time to counteract this opening, especially as the film will lose most of its IMAX screens in just a few days.
With a reported budget of $100 million before marketing, In the Heart of the Sea appears to be another misstep for Warner Brothers. This year, the studio also brought us costly flops like Pan, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Jupiter Ascending, as well as the more modestly budgeted (though arguably more disappointing) Our Brand is Crisis. And don’t look for international grosses to keep this movie above water. After opening last weekend in 38 markets, In the Heart of the Sea added just $18.5 million to its global total.
The good news for Warner Bros. is that Creed (co-distributed by MGM) continues to put up strong numbers. Following Sylvester Stallone’s Golden Globe nomination earlier this week, Creed was off by just 32.5% in its third frame. Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur also realized a strong hold (-31.5%), though it remains one of the lowest grossing releases in Pixar’s history. The Good Dinosaur is one of only three of the studio’s sixteen features to not top $100 million after three weekends in wide release.
So now it’s time to speculate about Star Wars 7. The movie is still expected to surpass Jurassic World’s $208 million to become the highest domestic debut of all time. At this point it looks like $225 million is the target projection, especially given the fact that The Force Awakens has already racked up more than $50 million in advance ticket sales. Of course it goes without saying that an all-time opening record would also shatter the all-time record for December.
The current December title holder is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with $84.6 million. Bilbo is clearly going down, but that all-time record is another story. If you remember the weekend of December 18, 2009, you’ll recall that a lot of people believed that Avatar was headed for a $100 million opening. Instead, the movie launched with a non-record setting $77 million. It was the weeks (months, really) to come that made Avatar the highest-grossing film of all time. The point is that December does not always produce the debuts that people expect. I believe that The Force Awakens will prove an exception and set a new record, but I’m also prepared in case next Sunday’s estimate comes up a bit short – at say, $204 million? Either way, we’re clearly all over this one. We’ll definitely let you know what happens.
Here’s this weekend’s top ten, based on studio estimates:
|1.||The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2||$11,300,000||$244.5|
|2.||In the Heart of the Sea||$11,005,000||$11|
|3.||The Good Dinosaur||$10,497,000||$89.66|
|7.||The Night Before||$3,900,000||$38.2|
|8.||The Peanuts Movie||$2,650,000||$124.9|