Christmas update: new Star Wars movie a big hit

John Cairns

Here at Cairns on Cinema, we try and do our part to fill up the news pages during a time of year when the news slows down and staff are on vacation.

Personally, I welcome this time of year because, among other things, I might finally get to a movie or two, after sitting through countless four-hour budget meetings in my regular job.

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The frustrating thing is I will hear about a movie that is rolling out somewhere, and then I look at the movie listings and realize it is playing nowhere near any movie theatres I might be headed to.  

Here is a good example of that — The Founder. This is the movie based on Ray Froc, the founder of the McDonald’s franchise, as portrayed by Michael Keaton.  

I’ve been hearing buzz about this movie since the summer, but it’s release was pushed back and pushed back. Then I had heard it had finally gone into a limited release in a number of theatres during the late fall.

But going online, I couldn’t find listings for it anywhere close to here, and for good reason. It turned out the November limited release was in Australia and New Zealand!  

Finally, I looked up Rotten Tomatoes and found a wide release date listed for North America: Jan. 20.

Well, great! Instead of being able to see The Founder during the Christmas break, I find out the release has been pushed back yet again! Aaargh!

The bottom line is I will have to figure out something else to see at the movies this holiday season. Or, if I’m desperate for McDonald’s, maybe I ought to skip the movies entirely and just go there for a bite to eat.

Box Office

There were big numbers to report in the domestic results for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. According to the numbers at Box Office Mojo, this movie opened to $155 million from 4,157 theatres, which is the second highest December opening of all time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It ranks as the 12th highest opening weekend of all time, right between The Hunger Games: Catching Fire from 2013 and the original The Hunger Games from 2012. Worldwide, its haul was $290 million. Not a bad start.

For all of 2016, this is the third-highest opening weekend of the year, behind the $179 million for Captain America: Civil War and the $166 million for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The question I have is whether this latest Star Wars movie will have enough momentum to finish as the top-grossing release of 2016.

As it stands right now, the number to beat is $486,295,561, which is the total domestic gross for Finding Dory from its opening day on June 17 to its close on Dec. 8. Finding Dory’s opening weekend was $135,060,273, so this latest Star Wars movie is running about $20 million ahead, but it may not have the same staying power in cinemas that Finding Dory did. Finding Dory sort of kept up its momentum right through the year, but science fiction movies in general tend to open strong and then cool off quickly.          

The other news from this past weekend is how poorly Collateral Beauty did. This starred Will Smith who has a stellar record of being one of Hollywood’s most bankable box-office stars. 

Not this time. Collateral Beauty was the worst opening ever for a movie starring Will Smith in a lead role.

Its domestic haul on opening weekend was $7 million, and no wonder. This was a downer of a movie about a man whose daughter had died. No wonder nobody rushed to the cinemas to see it.

Now, $7 million may seem like a lot of money to you, but in Hollywood, it sure isn’t. And when you compare these numbers to the domestic opening weekends of Will Smith’s other movies over the years, it really isn’t:

Suicide Squad $133 million

After Earth $27 million

Men in Black 3 $54 million

Hancock $62 million

I Am Legend $77 million

The Pursuit of Happyness $26 million

Hitch $43 million

I, Robot $52 million

Bad Boys II $46 million

Men In Black II $52 million

Ali $14 million

Wild Wild West $27 million

Men in Black $51 million

Independence Day $50 Million

In fact, Smith has been on a box-office slide as of late. Last year, Focus (co-starring Margot Robbie) opened to $18 million, and then Concussion, about concussions in the NFL, opened during the Christmas season to $10,513,749.

In general, this is not good news for Will Smith, and if I were he, I’d be looking for some projects that could earn a bit more money.   

That’s all for the time being. Stay tuned in the new year when I return with a rundown of the annual box office numbers for 2016. 


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