‘Rise of Skywalker’ on top at box office; newcomer ‘Little Women’ is a hit


“Star Wars” was still rising in the last weekend of the year, while “Little Women” broke big at the box office.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” brought in $72 million over the weekend to remain the top-earning film in North America by light-years, according to studio estimates Sunday.

In 10 days of release, it has brought in $362.8 million for Disney, falling just short of the earnings of its predecessor, 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in a comparable span.


Helped by the Christmas holiday week, “Star Wars” had a relatively small 59% drop-off in its second weekend after earning $175 million in its first.

“For a movie that opened that big, that is a modest drop,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Movies that open this time of year, they usually have legs.”

Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” earned $35.3 million for second place. The film has tallied $175.5 million through its third weekend of release.

Director Greta Gerwig’s re-imagining of the American literary classic “Little Women” had a $16.5-million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two films.

The film, also a Sony release, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Laura Dern, scored big with audiences and critics and was gaining momentum as an awards-season favorite.

“With Greta Gerwig’s reputation as a filmmaker, a great cast and a perfect holiday release date,” Dergarabedian said, “they’ve got quite a hit on the their hands.”

“Uncut Gems,” an even smaller film, also has sparked awards-season buzz, for Adam Sandler’s rare dramatic performance as a jeweler and gambling addict. “Gems” entered the top 10 for the first time as it expanded to more screens in its first week. The film earned $9.6 million over the weekend and had brought in $20 million overall.


Director Sam Mendes’ experimental World War I epic, “1917,” earned more than $1 million since its Christmas opening despite showing in only 11 theaters. The huge per-screen average bodes well for the film’s nationwide opening next month as it ramps up its Oscars campaign.

As 2019 ends, annual overall box office revenue is down by 4%, though it gained ground in the later months, narrowing a deficit that was 11% in April. But 2018 was always going to be tough to beat — it was “an outlier,“ Dergarabedian said. “It was just a massive year.“

Disney owned 2019 at the box office. With Marvel and “Star Wars” and its animation divisions, Disney had all five of the year’s top-grossing movies: “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4,” “Captain Marvel” and “Frozen 2.”

And with “The Rise of Skywalker” ending the year at No. 7 and “Aladdin” at No. 8, the mega-mouse ate up seven of the top 10 spots.

In its sixth weekend, “Frozen 2” earned $16.5 million for the three days through Sunday, good for fourth place. The animated hit now stands at a North American cumulative total of $421.3 million, and $1.2 billion globally.

In fifth place, the weekend’s other Christmas Day wide release, 20th Century Fox’s “Spies in Disguise,” collected $13.2 million this weekend for a five-day total through Sunday of $22.1 million. The animated spy spoof featuring the voices of Will Smith, Tom Holland, Ben Mendelsohn, Rashida Jones and Karen Gillan earned $16 million internationally for a global weekend of $29.2 million and a global cumulative total of $38.1 million.

Lionsgate’s “Knives Out,” directed by Rian Johnson, celebrated its fifth weekend in release by crossing the $100-million mark domestically and $200 million globally. The film earned $9.7 million for the three days.


At No. 8, “Cats,” which was reviled by critics, took in $4.8 million and a cumulative $17.8 million in its second weekend.

In ninth place was Lionsgate’s “Bombshell,” earning $4.7 million and a cumulative total through Sunday of $15.6 million in its third weekend.

Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” finished in 10th for the weekend with a three-day total of $3 million and $16.1 million since it opened Dec. 13.

In limited release, the strongly reviewed “Just Mercy,” from Warner Bros., earned $110,000 in four New York and Los Angeles locations for a weekend per-screen average of $27,500. Since opening on Christmas Day, the drama, based on a true story, notched a five-day cumulative total of $228,000. The film, starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, goes wide Jan. 10.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Song of Names,” starring Tim Roth and Clive Owen, tallied $41,156 on 10 screens, a per-screen average of $4,116 with a five-day total of $78,770.

“Clemency,” starring Alfre Woodard and released by Neon, opened in two locations to $37,078, for a per-screen average of $18,539.


Next week’s lone wide release is Screen Gems’ horror reboot “The Grudge.”

Times staff contributed to this story.