Fireworks and champagne flutes couldn't motivate enough moviegoers to go to the cineplex for a film other than Disney's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Over the New Year's weekend, the latest installation of the George Lucas-created franchise topped Paramount's "Daddy's Home," The Weinstein Co.'s "The Hateful Eight" and other holiday holdovers.
"The Force Awakens" grossed an estimated $88.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, nearly meeting expectations of $90 million for the weekend and pushing the J.J. Abrams-directed picture well past the $700-million domestic mark.
The space saga has broken ticket-sales records around the world with an estimated $1.5 billion globally. Some analysts think it could eventually challenge "Avatar's" worldwide box-office record of $2.8 billion. The film will open in China, the world's second-largest film market, on Saturday.
Placing second was Paramount's "Daddy's Home," starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Distributed in partnership with Red Granite Pictures, the PG-13 comedy brought in an estimated $29 million in its second week.
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.
"Daddy's Home" has pulled in an estimated $93.7 million to date.
Taking the weekend's third spot was the violent, three-hour "Hateful Eight," grossing $16.2 million. In its second week, having expanded to about 2,500 domestic theaters Wednesday, the Quentin Tarantino film did not meet expectations of $20 million.
Perhaps contributing to the less-than-expected performance was controversy swirling around Tarantino and his film. Last week, a screener copy of the movie was pirated online — along with multiple other award hopefuls. Additionally, a number of national police unions called for a boycott of the film last year following remarks Tarantino made about abuses by law enforcement officers.
The movie began its theatrical run Christmas Day on 100 screens in 44 cities for its so-called roadshow debut, where it played on special wide-scope 70-millimeter film, a format praised by cinephiles for its high-resolution image quality.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the $62 million picture received three Golden Globe nominations — supporting actress for Leigh, best screenplay and original score (for composer Ennio Morricone).
Rounding out the New Year's weekend box-office top five was Universal's "Sisters" ($12.6 million) and Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" ($11.8 million).
Opening in limited release was Paramount's "Anomalisa" in four locations in New York and Los Angeles. Pulling in an estimated $140,000, the R-rated stop-motion animated drama was written by Charlie Kaufman and co-directed with Duke Johnson. The film has won nearly universal praise from critics and is nominated for the Golden Globe for best animated film.
"Anomalisa" is voiced by David Thewlis, Leigh and Tom Noonan.
In its second week, Fox's "The Revenant" pulled in an additional $450,000 in its four theaters. An awards contender, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director of the 2015 best picture Oscar winner "Birdman."
As the year ended, 2015 became the industry's record holder for the best box office year to date. Aided by popular films like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Jurassic World" and "Furious 7," the domestic box office crossed a record $11.1 billion, a 7% increase over last year.