‘Rogue One’ Unleashes The Force To Claim Box Office Victory

The first Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, proved to be a worthwhile investment for Walt Disney Studios. The winning cast, led by Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, ushered in around $155 million at North American theaters, meeting the projected forecast. That number does not include the additional $135.5 million gained in ticket sales from overseas markets. According to the New York Times, the film has claimed its victory as the second highest-grossing December opening, beaten out by its 2015 predecessor, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells the story of ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things, as they set out on a mission to steal the Death Star plans, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Even Darth Vader shows up in this smash hit.

Senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian hinted to the Washington Post that Disney’s Star Wars-esque films have set the bar high for those that follow during the holiday season.

“We’re in uncharted territory for December. It’s going to be really hard for any movie to catch up to this movie…. This is only the second time a movie has opened this big in December.”

Rogue One pushed Disney’s Moana, to the number two spot after three weeks at number one. The animated film brought in a whopping $11.6 million, but still topped Office Christmas Party ($8.4 million) and Will Smith’s newcomer, Collateral Beauty ($7 million).

Collateral Beauty is led by Will Smith, who plays an ad exec in New York. In the film, Smith becomes depressed after losing his daughter. He pens heartfelt notes and has deep conversations with Death, Time, and Love. Believing that he has suffered a mental breakdown, his co-workers hire actors to play these characters and attempt to take the company away from him.

To state that Warner Bros. had high hopes pitting Smith’s opening against the intergalactic powers of a Star Wars film would be an understatement. Besides facing a top contender, the film also battled poor reviews.

The New York Times movie critic, Manohla Dargis, provided a scathing review that was sure to deter some moviegoers.

“The five stages of grief sometimes seem applicable to movie reviewing, except that I usually skip denial, rarely get around to acceptance and generally just settle into anger, which is where I am with ‘Collateral Beauty.’ Many of the words that I would like to use to describe this waste of talent and time, which riffs on Dickens’s eternal ‘A Christmas Carol’ and tries to manufacture feeling by offing Tiny Tim, can’t be lobbed in a family publication. So, instead, I will just start by throwing out some permissible insults: artificial, clichéd, mawkish, preposterous, incompetent, sexist, laughable, insulting.”

Amazon’s Manchester by the Sea also opened this weekend to a rocky start. Pulling in $4.1 million, the film is expecting dismal results in spite of good reviews. Casey Affleck and crew brought in a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film follows Casey Affleck’s character, Lee Chandler, who is granted guardianship of his 16-year-old nephew, Patrick, after his brother dies. Chandler takes a leave from his job and returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, to care for Patrick, but along the way he is forced to face his past — including his wife Randi, played by Michelle Williams, and his hometown community.

This week’s Top 10 box office numbers:

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, $155 million ($290.5 million international)

2. Moana, $11.66 million ($27.16 million international)

3. Office Christmas Party, $8.4 million ($17.5 million international)

4. Collateral Beauty, $7 million ($11.6 million international)

5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, $5 million ($19.5 million international)

6. Manchester by the Sea, $4.1 million ($4.66 million international)

7. La La Land, $4 million ($8.7 million international)

8. Arrival, $2.77 million ($5.97 million international)

9. Doctor Strange, $2 million ($2.8 million international)

10. Nocturnal Animals, $1.39 million ($1.99 million international)

Next week, gamers will be delighted for the release of Assassin’s Creed. Other moviegoers will also have some tough choices between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences, and Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Bacon in Patriot’s Day. Or, will viewers tune in for more Rogue One?

Tell us your holiday must-see film in the comments.

[Photo by AP Images | Colin Young-Wolff/Invision for Nissan]

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