Moviegoers continued to unwrap Disney’s box office holdover “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” over the holiday weekend as the space saga dominated a host of Christmas Day newcomers, including Paramount’s “Daddy’s Home” and 20th Century Fox’s “Joy.”
The latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise grossed an estimated $153.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend, beating the lower end of analyst expectations of $140 million. This drives the J.J. Abrams-directed picture to a to-date domestic gross of $544.5 million.
"The Force Awakens," which cost an estimated $200 million to produce, debuted last weekend to record domestic ticket sales of $248 million. It also grossed $281 million overseas for a global total of $529 million, topping the previous worldwide debut benchmark set in June by "Jurassic World" ($525 million). This week, with an international estimated gross of $546 million to date, the film became the fastest to surpass $1 billion globally.
Finding an audience through all the lightsabers and stormtroopers was “Daddy’s Home,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, for a second-place finish. Distributed in partnership with Red Granite Pictures, the PG-13 comedy beat its $22 million expectations, bringing in an estimated $38.8 million.
Directed by Sean Anders, the $50-million movie stars Ferrell as a mild-mannered man trying to compete for the affections of his stepchildren after the arrival of their freewheeling biological father, played by Wahlberg. The comedic duo received a B-plus grade from audiences, according to polling firm CinemaScore. Critics, however, couldn’t get with the two altogether, giving their performance a 28% positive rating on critic site Rotten Tomatoes.
Coming in third was "Joy," which reunites star Jennifer Lawrence with director David O. Russell ("American Hustle," "Silver Linings Playbook"). Pulling in an estimated $17.5 million, the film, which stars Lawrence as the divorced mother who invented the Miracle Mop, bested its $13-million expectations.
Audiences, which were primarily white (67%), female (66%) and over the age of 25 (77%), gave the film a B-plus grade (similar to “American Hustle,” which went on to be nominated for 10 Oscars). Critics, however, gave it just a 58% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rounding out the top five were holdovers: Universal’s “Sisters” at fourth with $13.9 million and Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” with $12.7 million.
Of the other newcomers, Sony Pictures’ NFL head trauma drama "Concussion" pulled in $11 million, also beating expectations. Co-financed by LStar Capital and Village Roadshow, the film stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first discovered the football-related brain disease C.T.E., and his battle against the league.
“I do believe that Dr. Omalu’s story is something that people are interested in,” said Rory Bruer, Sony’s head of distribution. “It’s always great to see how one person's belief in what is right will stand tall in the face of adversity. Those sorts of things, that sort of human element that any of us could end up being a hero without asking for it, that’s a story that resonates with us all.”
Smith’s Golden Globe-nominated performance helped the film find a decent footing among the crowded marketplace. The $35-million movie received an A CinemaScore grade and a 60% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics.
Additionally, considering the film’s relevance in the discussion of NFL injuries, the studio offered NFL players and their families free viewings.
The final newcomer in wide release was Alcon Entertainment and DMG Entertainment’s “Point Break,” distributed by Warner Bros. Meeting expectations, the remake of the 1991 Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves action sports thriller pulled in an estimated $10.2 million, an eighth-place finish.
Coming in above “Point Break” was “The Big Short,” from Paramount, Regency Enterprises and Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, which began nationwide expansion this weekend. The Adam McKay-directed comedy about a group of financial wizards who bet against the housing market ahead of the 2008 meltdown garnered an estimated $10.5 million in its third week for a seventh-place finish.
With both Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations under its belt, the film has grossed $16 million to date. It will continue expansion to 2,500 theaters on Jan. 8 to take advantage of award season buzz.
On the limited release front, newcomer Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” from the Weinstein Co., fared best with an 11th-place finish of $4.5 million, right behind "Creed." On just 100 screens -- all of which are presenting the movie on 70-millimeter film -- that’s an impressive per-theater average of $45,366.
Fox’s “The Revenant” opened to $471,000 on just four screens in New York and Los Angeles. An awards contender, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director of the 2015 best picture Oscar winner "Birdman."
Of note as the year comes to a close is the industry’s potential record of $11 billion. With the continual record-breaking run of "Star Wars" and the surprising performance of many of this week’s additions, such a feat is within reach. If this happens, 2015 would become the movie business' biggest year ever in the U.S. and Canada, not adjusting for inflation. The previous record was set in 2013 at $10.9 billion.
Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.