Box office preview: Rogue One eyes fourth week at No. 1
The holidays are over and the cold weather blues might be settling in, so it’s the perfect time of year to cozy up at the movies with major blockbusters and heavy-hitting awards contenders now playing across the country. Audiences have plenty to choose from over the crowded weekend ahead, from strong holdovers Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Sing to formidable newcomers like Underworld: Blood Wars. With so many high-profile releases gunning for moviegoers’ attention this week, who has the clearest path to come out on top? Here’s how the Jan. 6-8 weekend box office showdown could play out:
1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – $29 million
Aiming for its fourth straight weekend atop the North American chart, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is well on its way to becoming the top-grossing film released in 2016. Its $451 million total should push past the $486 million mark by Sunday to dethrone Finding Dory as the year’s biggest earner, after it likely topples the week’s newcomers for another weekend finish at No. 1. After opening to record numbers over the same frame in 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens held on strong throughout the top of 2016, holding the peak position through the first week of January as well. If its predecessor is any indication, Rogue One should have no trouble fending off January’s traditionally weak crop of mainstream releases as it climbs closer to $500 million domestically (and $1 billion globally).
Look for Rogue One to land in the $20-30 million range this weekend.
2. Sing – $24 million
Illumination and Universal’s latest animated hit follows a string of mega-successful titles released since 2010, including the Despicable Me series and 2016’s money-making juggernaut The Secret Life of Pets. Over the holiday frame, Sing grossed a whopping $180 million — a total that has since climbed to $190 million with 2017’s weekday grosses factored in. As the most prominent family-oriented title on the market, Sing will probably dip slightly across its third weekend in theaters, ending the week in $20-26 million territory.
3. Hidden Figures – $18 million
The inspiring, awards-bound drama from director Theodore Melfi has traveled a long way in recent months. After preview footage debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and early industry screenings generated overwhelmingly positive buzz, Hidden Figures has established itself as one of the season’s must-see releases with its inspiring story revolving around three black women who aided NASA’s upward trajectory amid the Space Race in the 1960s. The film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, hits nearly 2,500 locations on Friday, with a modest budget hovering around $25 million. The film has thus far performed well in limited release, earning $2.7 million despite never playing at more than 25 theaters. With solid reviews and stellar word-of-mouth carrying it into expansion, Hidden Figures should wind up with around $15-20 million over the three-day stretch.
4. Underworld: Blood Wars – $14 million
Five years after the release of the previous installment in the 14-year-old Underworld film franchise, Kate Beckinsale returns to the realm of werewolf slayers and skin-tight pleather for Blood Wars, the series’ fifth release (Beckinsale’s fourth, as she sat out for 2009’s Rise of the Lycans) since 2003. Three of the series’ titles previously found success with January release dates, with 2006’s Evolution, the aforementioned Lycans,and2012’s Awakening debuting to at least $20 million upon opening weekend at the top of their respective year of release. The five-year gap between Awakening and Blood Wars poses a potential issue, however, as the series has never gone more than roughly three years between releases. Audience interest has likely waned since, but Underworld‘s cult following should push it into the mid-teens as it opens in 3,065 theaters. With a production budget clocking in at half of the previous film’s cost (around $35 million after incentives) and $45 million in international grosses to boot, anything Blood Wars makes in the U.S. and Canada in the coming days is simply icing on the cake.
5. La La Land – $12 million
Mainstream movie musicals are often hit or miss; 2012’s Les Miserables powered through awards season to $148.8 million, while Rock of Ages underwhelmed to the tune of $38.5 million that same year, shortly after the ensemble romp Nine flopped with $19.7 million in 2009. Their success depends largely on the climate surrounding their release, critical reviews, and an inherently intriguing premise; still, there’s no denying a decent portion of the general audience sees La La Land‘s colorful promotional materials and glistening A-list stars as part of a bigger, spectacular novelty, and will flock to see it regardless of the awards attention it has received along the road to the Oscars. As it continues to expand, the film has made $40.4 million to date, putting it at No. 23 on the list of all-time musical grossers. As more people flock to see it, the stronger its word-of-mouth seems to get (it’s a crowd-pleasing knockout), meaning the film could very well cross the $100 million mark by spring. As it shuffles into even more theaters this weekend, expect La La Land to tap its way to a number in the $12-15 million range.
Outside the top 10, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls could make a small dent on the older demographic as it expands nationwide on Friday, looking at a weekend finish in the $2-3 million range after posting so-so numbers from four theaters since its Dec. 23 debut. The picture has already made over $30 million internationally, though its final domestic count won’t reach even half that total by the end of its run.