LOS ANGELES, Dec 18 (Variety.com) - "Rogue One: A Star Wars
Story" sold out multiplexes around the country and brought
fanboys and fangirls out in force over the weekend. The "Star
Wars" prequel scored the second largest December opening in
history, the second largest launch of the year, and one of the
top debuts in history, opening to a massive $155 million.
Globally, the film has earned $290.5 million, after touching
down in nearly every major foreign market save for China and
Disney, which shelled out $4 billion to buy "Star Wars"
creator LucasFilm in 2012, had been trying to downplay
expectations for "Rogue One." Executives noted that the film is
the first "Star Wars" movie to exist outside of the main
Skywalker clan storyline. It's also a darker, war-themed tale;
one that has an unusually high body count for a popcorn flick.
But the "Star Wars" pedigree proved irresistible to
audiences, and the film seems positioned to play well through
the holidays. Disney is planning to do more "Rogue One"-style
spinoffs. The company is already working on a film about the
early years of Han Solo that will star Alden Ehrenreich.
Most studios steered clear of "Rogue One," but Warner Bros.
and New Line offered up "Collateral Beauty" as
counter-programming for audiences unmoved by tales of Jedi
warriors. The drama about a grieving ad executive (Will Smith)
was savaged by critics, and only managed to eke out a paltry $7
million debut for a fourth place finish. That's a rough start
for the picture and continues Smith's bumpy period at the box
office. The actor scored with last summer's "Suicide Squad," but
struck out with the likes of "Focus," "After Earth," and
"Concussion." "Collateral Beauty" cost $36 million to produce.
Village Roadshow also backed the picture. The opening weekend
crowd skewed female and older, with women comprising 59% of the
audience and 58% of ticket buyers clocking in over the age of
Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. domestic distribution
president, acknowledged that the poor reviews hurt the film, but
stressed that its A-minus CinemaScore indicated that audiences
were enjoying "Collateral Beauty."
"I'm disappointed," he said. "But the film plays well with
an older audience, and we hope that over Christmas, they'll have
more free time available to go out and discover it."
Disney's "Moana" snagged second place, picking up $11.7
million and pushing its stateside gross to $161.9 million.
Paramount's "Office Christmas Party" nabbed third, earning $8.4
million and bringing the raunchy comedy's total to $31.5 million
after two weeks of release.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" rounded out the
top five, picking up $5 million to push the Harry Potter
spinoff's domestic total to $207.7 million.
Oscar-frontrunner "La La Land" performed nicely in its
expansion. The acclaimed musical picked up $4 million after
moving from five to 200 theaters. That brings its total to $5.3
million. Lionsgate is backing the film, which stars Ryan Gosling
and Emma Stone as two Angelenos in love.
Amazon and Roadside's "Manchester by the Sea" capitalized on
a slew of Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards
nominations, adding $4.2 million to its $14 million haul while
moving from 356 to 1,200 theaters.
In limited release, "Fences" picked up $128,000 in two
theaters. Paramount is backing the adaptation of the August
Wilson play, with Denzel Washington directing the film and
co-starring opposite Viola Davis. It cost just over $20 million