Along with 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,' animated tentpole 'Sing' was the biggest winner in terms of grosses.
After a year of wild ups and downs at the box office, the year-end holidays helped to propel North American revenue to a record $11.4 billion. But the Christmas season wasn't without its victims. And the jury is out on several titles.
Major Hollywood studios and indie distributors had to use flowcharts to keep track of the crowded marquee, from commercial players to a slew of awards contenders making a limited bid.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Gareth Edwards' stand-alone prequel Rogue One has easily stayed atop the box office since opening Dec. 16, amassing $790 million to date globally, including $439.7 million domestically. That's the second-best Christmas showing of all time behind last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, ending debate as to whether the stand-alone movie would work.
Illumination Entertainment and Universal's animated holiday offering Sing (think talking animals meets American Idol) was likewise a stalwart through the holidays, crooning its way to $180 million domestically in less than two weeks (it opened Dec. 21) to become the biggest December animated release of all time. Overseas, the original film has had a staggered rollout, grossing north of $100 million for a global total of $285 million through Monday.
Fences, La La Land and Hidden Figures
Among the glut of prestige films and awards contenders vying for attention, this trio made some of the biggest gains. Denzel Washington's Broadway play adaptation Fences, which Paramount expanded nationwide on Christmas Day into 2,301 theaters, has earned $32.4 million to date, a strong number for a stage adaptation and already all but matching previous big-screen versions of 2008's Doubt ($33 million) and 2004's Closer ($33 million) and besting the film version of 2008's Frost/Nixon ($18 million). Lionsgate's La La Land has hit $37 million domestically despite playing in only 750 theaters, and celebrated the New Year by becoming the top limited release of 2016, edging CBS Films and Lionsgate's Hell or High Water ($27 million). Fox 2000's Hidden Figures, which opened in 25 theaters Christmas Day, earned $1.1 million over New Year's weekend for a location average of $45,800 — the best of the weekend — and an early domestic total of $2.5 million. Hidden Figures expands nationwide Friday.
Sony's sci-fi space romance, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, is the biggest question mark coming out of the holiday season. The big-budget movie has earned $66 million domestically since its Dec. 21 debut, which is not a spectacular number considering Passengers' star power and budget (it cost $110 million to $120 million to produce). Sony is confident the movie will ultimately be OK thanks to strong legs in the U.S. and a major run offshore, but rivals remain dubious. Passengers has earned $60 million since beginning its foreign rollout Dec. 26. It has yet to open in a handful of major markets, including China, although it debuts in the Middle Kingdom only a week after Rogue One on Jan. 13. One advantage: China's Wanda is one of the investors in Passengers and will help promote the film there.
The video game adaptation of the Ubisoft game tested poorly with audiences, so New Regency and Fox were prepared for bad news. Starring Michael Fassbender, Assassin's Creed has grossed a subdued $41.9 million in North America since its Dec. 21 debut. The pic is hoping for redemption overseas, where it has earned $44.1 million to date, but it's looking like a loss for New Regency, which produced and financed the movie.
Live by Night
Ben Affleck's first directorial outing since his Oscar-winning Argo (2012) has fared dismally since debuting in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day in order to qualify for awards consideration, a decision made late in the game. The period gangster film, made by Warner Bros., Affleck's home studio, seemingly got lost amid the glut of awards contenders bowing over the year-end holidays, posting a dismal screen average of $12,048 over New Year's weekend. The plan is to expand Live by Night nationwide on Jan. 13.
A Monster Calls
Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona's fantasy-drama and awards hopeful fared even worse than Live by Night in the U.S., where it posted a location average of just $7,081 over New Year's weekend. The movie, starring Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell and Liam Neeson, launched in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 23. The good news: It has done stellar business overseas, earning north of $30 million to date — it was the top-grossing title of the year in Spain — and could still pick up domestically.
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