Making the jump to hyperspace and spot number one this week, Rogue One - the latest installment in the Star Wars Universe franchise pulled in $155 million domestically, which already makes it the 15th highest grossing release of 2016. Let me say that a different way so you under stand the full accomplishment of that feat - in it's first three days, Rogue One is already the 15th highest grossing film! On top of that the list of records and honorable mentions for the film include:

  • 4th largest December three-day weekend ever
  • 3rd largest opening of 2016
  • 12th largest opening of all time
  • 2nd December opener to debut over $100 million (second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens from last year)

More over Rogue One made $90 million more it's opening weekend from the domestic box office than literally every other film that was screened last weekend combined! Internationally the film had nearly as successful of an opening as it did here in the states as it made just under $135 million from 54 markets, delivering a $290 million worldwide release. Which means the film has nearly made $100 million in profit off this film in the first few days of its release and the film promises to be the name to beat at least for the next weekend or two. 

After waiting an ENTIRE YEAR to see this film I saw it Friday night opening weekend and I was blown away. All I knew going into this film was that it was a one-off film based on a simple reference made in the very first Star Wars film, A New Hope. It’s the story of a group of Rebels who track down, fight, and steal the plans for the Death Star that then eventually lead to the events that transpire in New Hope. Without giving too much away in regards to plot or twists, I will say this film finally put to rest the decades long joke and critique that the Death Star was too easy to destroy. And if you really want the reason as to why GO SEE THIS FILM! That or check out our Rogue One review for an in-depth look at the film and story which has some spoilers for you all. COMING SOON!

The proceeding weeks for this film will be interesting as it really is setting a precedent that I know studio executives at Disney our monitoring closely. If it does exceptionally well there's no doubt in my mind that this will just be the first of many spin offs for this franchise. But the film might actually have an uphill battle to still climb. First, the film has a decent bit of competition going against it this weekend with the release of five other newcomers. Second, the film while still being a Star Wars film, doesn't advance the canonized saga the way its 7 predecessors  did and that could lend itself to bringing about a sharper decline than for say Force Awakens as fans might feel less connected to this storyline. It could end up dropping by 40% next weekend similarly to how Force performed, but honestly 50% is most likely where it will end up. That would still place it atop the box office, though, as it would pull in $75-$80 million and not a single other film stands a chance of pulling that much in on its own.

Especially not this week’s other newcomer, Collateral Beauty, whose opening weekend wasn’t so pretty. The film opened to spot number four this weekend with $7.1 million from over 3,000 theaters, effectively making it the worst opening for a Will Smith-led film – trailing behind last year’s Concussion which only managed to hit the the $10 million threshold opening weekend. Surprisingly opening day audiences gave it an A- on Cinemascore, but I suppose if your jam is holiday sob fest films, this one's your go to. There’s nothing wrong with that either, but what I will point out is that the film played as counter programming to Rogue One and didn’t do that hot, and it’s certainly getting left out in the cold this coming weekend.

But the festivities get kicked off extra early this week for most starting on Wednesday with titles such as Sony’s Passengers, the film adaptation of Assassin’s Creed, and Illumination Studios newest animated feature, Sing. That’s not even including Fox’s Why Him which will start screening Friday and Paramount’s nationwide expansion of Fences on Christmas Day.

The film that arguably stands the best chance of scoring a second place finish this weekend is Illumination’s Sing. Sing is the story of an ensemble of animals who get thrust together on a journey of talent discovery as they each compete in a massively publicized talent show hosted by Buster Moon, a Koala who is making a last ditch attempt to save the failing theatre he operates. As the only real family friendly film this weekend (aside from Moana), and with a great cast of voice actors, including such talent as Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johnansoon, John C. Reilly, and Taron Egerton, Sing is going to be hitting some high notes with audiences this weekend.

For films like Assassin’s Creed and Passengers, the forecast isn’t so clear. Assassin’s Creed stars Michael Fassbender and is based off the massively successful video game series of the same title. For those unfamiliar with the basic story line this film will be about a man going back in time using the memories locked within his ancestral DNA so that he can discover secrets and answers to mysteries that will help him to fight an oppressive order known as the Templers in his present day. And while that probably sounds like the weirdest plot ever – as a huge fan of the game series – I promise you it’s actually really well executed in the video games. The film however I am less hopeful of given its 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps the critics aren’t a huge fan of the games and therefore this is going over their heads, but with statements like,

“In the end, the real mystery has little to do with the Assassins, the Templars or the Apple of Eden and more to do with why so many talented thespians thought this was a good idea.” - Lindsey Bahr

I am skeptical to say the least of the film adaptation. But maybe it’ll surprise us all and have massive success overseas like War Craft saw earlier this year.

But now to Passengers, a film I was actually looking forward to until I saw Arrival, is the third and final film making an early bid on the Christmas box office. Passengers is the story of Jim and Aurora who are travelers aboard a space ship on their way to a new home world. But after being woken up 90 years too early by a malfunction on the ship, the two of them begin falling for one another as they are the only two awake. Soon they discover the ship is in grave danger and they together must work to save not just their lives but the 5,000 other lives aboard the ship. Aside from being a space flix the film doesn’t look like it’s offering me or its target audience anything other than some flash in the pan and some star power that’ll be forgettable within a week’s time. If you want my opinion, I’d pass on Passengers this weekend.

Releasing then on Friday we have Why Him? Starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco. This one looks like it’ll be the holiday adult comedy option for the 18 and older crowd and arguably possess the best chance at third place this weekend if we are being honest. The film currently has a 36% and 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively.

And our final wide release newcomer this weekend will be Paramount’s Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Fences is a strong, bold looking Oscar contender with what appears to be powerful performances from Washington, Davis, and a slew of other tried and true actors in this 1950s race, regret, and equality film. This film no doubt is going to be a hard, difficult one to watch, but I love this cast so much I'll go through any amount of painful emotions they want to throw at me. This is going to be a beautiful film which will sadly most likely not be getting the full attention it so adamantly deserves. Fences most likely won’t make over $6 million given all the other competition both on the major and minor studio levels, but it’s one that I know I’ll be making a point to see this week, along with going to see Rogue One a couple more (read dozen) times.

So all in all our Christmas movie stockings are going to be full this holiday weekend with some major talent spread across a whole assortment of different films and genre topics. I know I say this a lot, but there’s arguably something for everyone this weekend. So after enjoying Christmas morning with your loved ones, head out to your local theatre and show these films some love!

-Matthew Miller

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