'Rogue One' to edge out new releases over the Christmas holiday


We’re looking at a busy Christmas weekend at the box office. There are a grand total of six new wide releases spread out across the Thursday-Sunday span, including two heavily hyped awards contenders—La La Land and Fences—expanding from specialty release. And a healthy handful of additional high-profile films—among them Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls and Peter Berg’s Patriots Day—open on a smaller number of screens in advance of a later expansion. 

All the same, it’s looking reasonably certain that a holdover is going to earn more than all of them. That holdover is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which opened last week to a monster $155 million, the third highest debut of the year. It’s in the same boat as last year’s Star Wars offering The Force Awakens, which also opened the week before Christmas and had a very small second weekend drop of only 39.8%. Rogue One won’t do that well, but it should easily benefit from healthy Christmas numbers--say $90 million or so over the six-day (Weds-Monday) weekend.

Among the new wide releases, Illumination Entertainment’s Sing is poised to blow everyone else out of the water to the tune of $50 million. Lagging behind will be Passengers and Assassin’s Creed, which have A-list stars (the duos of Jennifer Lawrence/Chris Pratt and Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard, respectively) but have fallen prey to largely negative reviews. And hey, there’s a lot of competition this weekend. Passengers should out-earn Assassin’s Creed by several million, but when the dust settles neither film is likely to be counted a huge victory for their studios. New release Why Him? should round out the top five.

Also fighting for audience attention are Fences and La La Land, expanding to approximately 2,200 and 731 theatres, respectively. If they have a hard time gaining a foothold against more spectacle-heavy releases over the holiday, that’s not a huge deal—they’re both heavy Oscar contenders, so they can expect to have a reasonably good hold as the awards season trucks on. This is particularly true of La La Land, a frontrunner in the Best Picture race, where Fences is mainly being talked about in the context of Viola Davis’ stunning supporting performance.

New in limited release are Hidden Figures (25 theatres); Ben Affleck’s Live by Night (four theatres); Patriots Day (seven theatres), the third collaboration between director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg; J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls (four theatres); Martin Scorsese’s passion project Silence (four theatres); Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta (six theatres); German comedy Toni Erdmann (three theatres) and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women. Those films will expand throughout January. Also in the mix is Bollywood drama Dangal, opening on 331 screens.