Other films will try to find an audience as ‘Star Wars’ goes into second weekend

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is set to dominate the U.S.-Canada box office again this weekend as the domestic film business hurtles toward a record year.

The latest installment in the Lucasfilm franchise is expected to gross $140 million to $180 million domestically Friday through Sunday, according to box-office analysts, overpowering a slew of new films including multiple possible awards contenders and a Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy that will hit theaters Christmas Day.

The massive sales for “Star Wars” are poised to push industrywide box-office ticket sales to the $11-billion mark by the end of 2015, according to entertainment data firm Rentrak. That would be 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.


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“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). As of Monday, the J.J. Abrams-directed space saga had grossed about $611 million.

Multiple other films will try to find an audience while “Star Wars” draws unprecedented attention from moviegoers. They include “Concussion,” “Daddy’s Home,” “Joy,” “Point Break” and “The Big Short.”

“This weekend could be one of the biggest Christmas weekends and biggest Christmas Days of all time,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak. “You’ve got a lot of movies coming out this weekend.”

Likely leading the crowded pack of new non-"Star Wars” movies is “Daddy’s Home” from Paramount Pictures.

The PG-13 comedy is expected to gross $20 million to $22 million through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience tracking surveys. The $50-million film 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.

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Other newcomers are likely to debut to lower numbers in hopes of generating strong buzz among moviegoers that will carry through the holiday season.

“Joy,” which reunites star Jennifer Lawrence with director David O. Russell (“American Hustle,” “Silver Linings Playbook”), appears to be headed for a gross of $11 million to $13 million. The 20th Century Fox comedy-drama stars Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the divorced mother who invented the Miracle Mop.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures’ NFL head trauma drama “Concussion” is on track for a debut of about $10 million, according to analysts. Will Smith portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first discovered the football-related brain disease C.T.E., and his battle against the league. The studio hopes Smith’s performance and the movie’s treatment of a timely controversy will interest filmgoers. The $35-million movie was co-financed by LStar Capital and Village Roadshow.

This weekend will also see the nationwide expansion of “The Big Short” from Paramount, Regency Enterprises and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. The Adam McKay-directed comedy about a group of financial wizards who bet against the housing market ahead of the 2008 meltdown goes wide Wednesday and should take in about $10 million through Sunday. The well-reviewed film has already posted strong numbers from its limited release this month.

Warner Bros. “Point Break,” on the other hand, could be bracing for a wipeout. The $105-million movie, released by Warner Bros. and co-financed by Alcon Entertainment and DMG Entertainment, is expected to gross $10 million to $15 million in the U.S. and Canada. The remake of the 1991 Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves action sports thriller debuted earlier overseas. The movie has raked in about $43 million so far, mainly from ticket sales in China.

Theaters will also be busy with limited releases including “The Revenant,” an awards contender starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who made the 2015 Best Picture Oscar winner “Birdman.” It will be shown in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

Weinstein Co. will release Quentin Tarantino’s new western epic “The Hateful Eight” in about 100 North American theaters showing it in 70mm film.

Twitter: @rfaughnder


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