'Rogue One' poised to Force its way to the top of the box office


After a slow couple of weeks, the box office is expected to rev back up thanks to a little thing called Star Wars. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will open big, as in “north of $150 million.” It won’t surpass the $247.9 million The Force Awakens debuted with last December—that film had the sheen of  being the first new Star Wars film in 10 years, plus Rogue One’s reviews are more mixed—but it will still end up one of the highest openings of the year. (The top two at this point belong to Captain America: Civil War with $179.1 million and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with $166 million.)

For counterprogramming, Warner Bros. is releasing holiday weepfest Collateral Beauty, which boasts an A-list cast (Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet) but has been subject to positively atrocious reviews. It will be a struggle for that film to surpass Disney’s Moana; though three weeks old, its hold in the top five has been strong up to this point. Holdovers Office Christmas Party and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them should claim the other top spots in the top five.

Manchester by the Sea continues its slow and steady expansion, jumping from 366 theatres to 1,203. In the past week, it’s collected a handful of Golden Globe and SAG nominations, which should help it rack up a few million. La La Land, which had the year’s best per-theatre opening last weekend, expands to 200 screens. 

Elsewhere in Oscarland, Denzel Washington’s Fences—for which Viola Davis is thought to be a virtual lock for Best Supporting Actress—opens in four theatres in advance of a nationwide expansion on Christmas. Also new to theatres in limited release are Neruda, Solace and A Kind of Murder.