The new year is supposed to bring change, rebirth, radically different directions. At least until Monday drudgery and that person you swore you'd cut out of your life come calling again.
The New Year's weekend just ended followed a rather different path at the box office; ringing in the new wasn’t exactly the order of the day. A large number of movies filling multiplexes were about Hollywood personalities doing what they did before. Stars reunited, franchises were reprised, directors tried similar themes on similar dates. The results were telling: Some movies rekindled the magic, others might have wished reunions were best left to middling arena-rock bands.
Here, then, are six attempts at film revivals of various sorts over New Year's weekend and how they fared:
“The Hateful Eight.” Quentin Tarantino had a major success at the end of 2012 with “Django Unchained”--a blood-spattered, western-flavored seriocomedy about race in the 19th century. At the end of 2015, he returned with “The Hateful Eight”--a blood-spattered, western-flavored seriocomedy about race in the 19th century. The comparisons, alas, don’t favor “Hateful.” Five days into its wide release, “Django” had grossed $54 million. Five days into its wide release, “Hateful” has managed barely $30 million, and that’s with the number-bolstering help of a one-week limited release prior to the widening.
With its strong opening, “Django” climbed all the way to $163 million at home and took in an additional $263 million overseas. “Hateful” will be lucky to get to $80 million at home. Was it the long running time, the crowded “Star Wars” field, a damper from the headlines about planned cop boycotts or a general Tarantino fatigue? Whatever the case, what had been a winning mix of topic, style and date three years ago has not fared as well upon its reprise.
"Sisters." This marks the second major film comedy for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who did their odd-couple thing in 2008 with "Baby Mama." Like a Golden Globes sketch, a reunion proved to be a smart turn. Their new comedy is outpacing the old with some authority. Fey and Poehler--not fully the household names back in 2008 that they are now--managed a decent but hardly spectacular $61 million over the course of "Baby Mama’s" lifetime. "Sisters" has garnered $60 million just two weekends into its release. Even with the holidays now over, there's gas in the tank--with new comedies like “Ride Along 2” and “Dirty Grandpa” not hitting until later in the month, expect some more cash to come in for the sisterly ones and the movie to solidly outpace their previous effort.
"Daddy's Home." Speaking of odd-couple comedies, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell got together to some strong box-office effect in 2010 with the cop comedy "The Other Guys." Their pairing is proving strong again. Stronger, even. At $94 million, their new movie is the clear winner of the non-"Star Wars" sweepstakes—and also well ahead of the $70 million of "Other Guys" at the same point in its release cycle.
Still, “Other Guys” was working against the liability of a slower moviegoing period in August. And it still topped out at a very robust $120 million. "Daddy's" will have to keep going to meaningfully eclipse it — but, like “Sisters,” it should have a little more runway left.
"Joy." Another holiday season, another David O. Russell-Jennifer Lawrence collaboration. This is the third time in four years the two have gotten together this time of year, after "Silver Linings Playbook" in 2012 and "American Hustle" in 2013. Those movies set high bars-- $132 million and $150 million totals, respectively -- that the new movie is unlikely to reach. "Hustle" after two wide weekends was considerably higher than "Joy" -- $59 million to $39 million. But considering the stiff holiday competition and the somewhat weak pre-release tracking, the "Joy" numbers are still solid, if hardly up to Russell's recent blockbuster numbers, let alone Lawrence's.
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.” Yes, the band got back together after being apart for four years. (The previous two sequels came out no more than two years after the most immediately previous movie). They might have wished they stayed apart—through three weekends, the squeaky-voiced ones have grossed just $67 million, a drop-off from the $98 million over the same period of the last "Chipmunks" movie in 2011 and a plunge from the $150 million-plus apiece the first two movies grossed in the same time frame. Sometimes breakups happen for a reason.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The movie that’s the ultimate return — a harking back to 1977 in more ways than one. By now the box office marks just keep falling—over the holiday weekend the J.J. Abrams film passed “Titanic” to become the second-highest-grossing movie domestically of all time not adjusting for inflation, with the top spot of “Avatar” a mere $20 million away. Internationally the film keeps climbing too — it’s at $1.51 billion, good for sixth place for all-time, with “Titanic’s” second place of $2.19 billion at least in striking distance. If there’s one caveat when it comes to comparing the new “Star Wars” with the original, though, it’s that Finn & Co. won’t catch it in adjusted dollars: At $1.53 billion, George Lucas’ 1977 film took in more than twice the current amount of “The Force Awakens.”