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Box Office: ‘Rogue One’ Rules Over New Year’s Weekend, ‘Sing’ Still Strong

Variety logo Variety 1/2/2017 Brent Lang

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New Year’s kicked off with familiar favorites, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Sing,” dominating the domestic box office. Both films have emerged as the biggest hits of the holiday season.

The Star Wars spinoff topped the box office, just as it has since opening three weeks ago. “Rogue One” racked up $64.3 million for the four-day holiday weekend. That pushes its North American total to  $424.9, putting it in second place among last year’s highest-grossing domestic releases. Globally, “Rogue One” has made $774.9 million, with China, the world’s second-largest film market, yet to open.

© Provided by Variety Disney, which released “Rogue One” through its LucasFilm banner, has four of the year’s top five domestic earners, including “Finding Dory,” which was the highest-grossing stateside film with $486.3 million. The company had a lot riding on “Rogue One.” It invested roughly $4 billion to the rights to the Star Wars canon, with a goal of creating a cinematic universe to rival Marvel’s. “Rogue One” is the first of several planned spin-off films that will exist outside of the main Skywalker family saga. Disney is also readying a film about Han Solo’s origins, with Alden Ehrenreich poised to inherit Harrison Ford’s blaster.

“Sing,” an animated story about a talent competition involving animals, picked up $56.4 million bringing the film’s domestic total to $180 million. “Sing” is the latest offering from Illumination and Universal. The partners have previously collaborated on “Despicable Me” and last summer’s hit, “The Secret Life of Pets.” What makes Illumination’s accomplishments particularly impressive is that “Sign” cost $75 million to make at a time when most major animated releases carry budgets in excess of $100 million. “Sing” features vocal work from Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, and Taron Egerton, as well as music from the likes of Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Stevie Wonder.

In third place “Passengers,” a science-fiction romance with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, earned $20.7 million over the four days, pushing its domestic gross to $66 million. “Passengers” is being watched closely, because it is the first major greenlight of Tom Rothman’s reign as studio chief at Sony. With a $110 million budget and millions more spent in promotion, “Passengers” is banking on foreign crowds to lift it into the black. To that end, the film caught a break, scoring a release date in China on Jan. 13 — Chinese conglomerate Wanda, an investor on the film, will help with marketing in the Middle Kingdom.

Fox’s “Assassin’s Creed” made $10.8 million holiday. The video game adaptation has earned a lackluster $41.9 million since opening over Christmas. With a hefty $125 million budget, it will need foreign audiences to turn out in force if it wants to avoid a write down.

Fox has had more success with “Why Him?,” a mid-budget comedy with Bryan Cranston and James Franco. The film centers on a generational clash between a father who hates his daughter’s boyfriend. It earned $13 million over the four day holiday and has made $37.5 million domestically.

The end of the year also played host to a slew of awards seekers.  Paramount’s “Fences” has scored among the adult dramas flooding theaters. The August Wilson adaptation is generating Oscar buzz for star and director Denzel Washington, as well as for Viola Davis. Both actors appeared in an acclaimed 2010 Broadway revival of the play. The drama earned $12.7 million over the holiday and has made $32.4 million since debuting three weeks ago in limited release.

Paramount also fielded the religious drama “Silence.” It’s a passion project for Martin Scorsese, who has been trying to bring the story of Jesuits in feudal Japan to the screen for decades. “Silence” earned $110,000 in four locations over the weekend, bringing its total to $337,000. The movie, a cerebral examination of spirituality, will need to get Oscar attention if it wants to resonate with mainstream crowds.

Lionsgate’s “La La Land” is a hit with critics and audiences. The musical reunites Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who previously appeared together memorably in “Crazy Stupid Love” and less so in “Gangster Squad.” It earned $12.3 million over the four-day holiday, bringing its gross to $37 million. Along with “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight,” “La La Land” is seen as a leading contender for a Best Picture statue at the upcoming Academy Awards.

Fox’s “Hidden Figures,” drama about a team of African-American scientists who calculated flight plans during the early days of the space program, earned an impressive $1.1 million for the four days from just 25 theaters. It goes into wide release next weekend. Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson.

“Patterson,” Jim Jarmusch’s look at a soulful bus driver, made $88,167 for the long weekend, bringing its gross to $119,657. It is being released by Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street, with Adam Driver starring.

“Live by Night,” a Warner Bros. gangster picture with Ben Affleck, continued to struggle in limited release. The film picked up $50,000 from four theaters for a paltry per-screen average of $12,548. It opens in wide release on Jan. 13.

Roadside Attractions ended the year on a high note. The indie distributor behind “Manchester by the Sea” and “Hello, My Name is Doris” announced that it had its best year ever from a box office perspective with $75.7 million. Its previous highest grossing year was in 2013 when it took in $44.8 million.

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