January 9, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “The Revenant” Fights Off The “Star Wars” Bear


THE REVENANT (Regency/20th) is showing impressive strength in its first day of wide release, after 2 strong weeks at NY/LA arthouses.  Preliminary numbers at Deadline give it $14M+ on Friday, putting it surprisingly into 1st place and confirming that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the few “movie stars” these days who actually sells tickets.  (That won’t hurt him as the year’s Oscar race moves into its home stretch.)  The Friday number probably won’t be enough to carry the weekend, because at most it will go up modestly on Saturday (and its older male audience may be disproportionately affected by NFL playoff football), but it should still reach around $38M by Sunday, much better than anticipated.  The only catch is that Revenant has a blockbuster’s budget (reportedly $135M in production costs, meaning $250M+ with worldwide marketing), and those still aren’t blockbuster numbers, so it will need to play strongly through awards season to emerge with a profit.  Still, considering that it’s a graphically violent 2 1/2-hour relentlessly grim R-rated western, it’s way ahead of the game.

THE FOREST (Gramercy/Focus/Universal) is marginally above expectations, with perhaps $5M on Friday and a $12M weekend.  That’s not quite as good as the $15M for last January’s horror cheapie Woman In Black 2, but may be enough to sustain its low-rent economic model, especially since its Japanese setting could help it overseas.

Because last Friday was New Year’s Day, the Friday-to-Friday comparisons are all rather ugly.  That includes what may be a 70% drop for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Lucasfilm/Disney), looking mortal for the first time with $11M on Friday.  That should put it in a tight battle with Revenant for the weekend, but one it should still eke out with $39-40M.  Avatar, by comparison, went down just 48% on its post-New Year’s Friday, to $13.3M.  Of course, Force has already beaten Avatar to become the highest grossing film in US history (not adjusted for inflation), and this weekend it will go over $800M (and open in China as well), so no need to feel bad for Disney and its minions.  It does seem, however, as though it’s hitting the beginning of its end, which may not quite get to $900M.

DADDY’S HOME (Red Granite/Paramount) fell 65% from last Friday to $4M, on its way to a $14M weekend.  It should wind up just below $150M, making it one of Will Ferrell’s biggest starring vehicles.

SISTERS (Universal) had one of the weekend’s better holds, down 52% from last Friday to $2.2M for a likely $7M weekend, on track for a solid $85M US total.

THE BIG SHORT (Regency/Paramount) increased its theatre count by 60% as it hopes for big things from the Golden Globes and Oscar noninations, so its 40% Friday-to-Friday drop to $2M isn’t as good as it looks.  Still, it should have a $7M weekend, on the road to a US total that could go well above $60M as awards season continues, an excellent result for one of the season’s more unique films.

The performance of THE HATEFUL 8 (Weinstein) is something of an embarrassment, as The Revenant did to it pretty much what Quentin Tarantino does to its characters.  Despite increasing its theatre count by nearly 20%, it plunged 70% from last Friday to $2M, and may have a $6M weekend.  Hateful may not even reach the $66.2M of Kill Bill Vol. 2, which would make it Tarantino’s lowest-grossing solo directing effort in nearly 20 years.  At this point, the studio may have to consider the possibility that far from turning a major profit, it could actually lose money if overseas audiences are similarly cold.

JOY (Annapurna/20th) and CONCUSSION (Sony) are fading, each down about 65% from last Friday to $1-1.5M Fridays, with respective $4.5M and $3.5M weekends ahead.  Joy should finish with around $55M, and Concussion with $40M, neither having much of an awards season impact.  ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP (20th) fell apart now that youngsters are done with vacations, down 75% from last Friday to $1M or so for a $5M weekend and possible $85M US total.

The latest Christian release THE MASKED SAINT (Freestyle) went straight to hell, and may not average $500 per theatre for the weekend in its 482-theatre run.

ANOMALISA (Paramount) expanded to 17 theatres, and is heading for an OK $11K weekend average.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."