'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Establishes New Opening Weekend Benchmark with Record Breaking $238.0M; 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip' #2 with $14.4M; 'Sisters' #3 with $13.4M

on December 20, 2015 by Daniel Garris
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Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a truly historic debut with a record breaking estimated opening weekend take of $238.0 million. The long awaited seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise had been expected to set a new all-time opening weekend record and the film made good on those expectations and then some. The Force Awakens demolished the previous opening weekend record, as it opened $29.19 million and 14 percent ahead of the $208.81 million debut of previous record holder Jurassic World earlier this year. The opening weekend performance of The Force Awakens was made even more impressive by the fact that no prior December release had ever even opened above the $100 million domestic mark. The Force Awakens opened an astonishing 181 percent higher than the $84.62 million debut of previous December opening weekend record holder The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey back in 2012. The per-location average for The Force Awakens was a massive $57,568.

In serving as a sequel as opposed to a prequel to the original Star Wars films, anticipation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens had been off the charts for what now seems like ages. The film's immense initial anticipation reached a fever pitch as the film's release date approached thanks in part to a marketing campaign that was seemingly everywhere and very strong critical reviews that were unleashed just days before the film opened.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened with a record breaking $120.5 million on Friday (which included a record breaking $57.0 million from Thursday night shows), decreased 43 percent on Saturday to gross $68.7 million and is estimated to decline 29 percent on Sunday to take in $48.80 million. That places the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 1.98 to 1. When factoring out Thursday night grosses from Friday, the film's Saturday performance was up a healthy 8 percent over Friday alone.

With the Christmas and New Year's holidays ahead of it, the domestic run for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is only getting started. In addition to the additional aid it will receive from the holidays; repeat viewings and strong word of mouth (the film received an A rating on CinemaScore) are sure to help The Force Awakens in a big way going forward as well.

The audience breakdown for Star Wars: The Force Awakens skewed towards male moviegoers (58 percent) and towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (63 percent). Family audiences made up 20 percent of the film's overall audience this weekend. 3D grosses represented 47 percent of the film's overall grosses. IMAX 3D (which is also included in the overall 3D split) accounted for an estimated $30.1 million (12.6 percent) of the film's overall grosses. With an overseas start of $279.0 million thus far, the estimated global total through Sunday for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is $517.0 million.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened in a distant second place with an estimated $14.4 million. The fourth installment of Fox's animated live-action hybrid franchise opened in line with expectations and performed respectably in the shadow of The Force Awakens. The Road Chip opened 38 percent below the $23.24 million start of 2011's Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, but had been widely expected to open softer than its predecessor.

The Road Chip started out with $4.14 million on Friday, increased 39 percent on Saturday to take in $5.73 million and is estimated to decline 21 percent on Sunday to gross $4.54 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.48 to 1. The film received a healthy A- rating on CinemaScore, which suggests that there is once again a disconnect between moviegoers and critics when it comes to the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise. With no new family films entering the marketplace until Lionsgate's Norm of the North does so on January 15, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is highly likely to hold up very well going forward.

Universal's Sisters debuted closely behind in third with an estimated $13.42 million. Like The Road Chip, the R-rated comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler also opened in line with pre-release expectations. Sisters debuted 23 percent below the $17.41 million start of 2008's Baby Mama, but had been expected to do so as a result of its pre-Christmas launch. Sisters did open an encouraging 16 percent ahead of the $11.58 million start of This Is 40 back in December of 2012.

Sisters started with $4.95 million on Friday, declined a slim 2 percent on Saturday to gross $4.84 million and is estimated to fall 25 percent on Sunday to gross $3.63 million. That places the film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.71 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (79 percent) and towards moviegoers under the age of 30 (58 percent). The film received a solid B rating on CinemaScore. Sisters should hold up well going forward, as the film is positioned nicely to continue serving as counter-programing to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and to many of the new wide releases that will be entering the marketplace over the next two weeks.

After leading the weekend box office for four consecutive frames The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 fell to fourth place with an estimated $5.65 million. The final chapter of Lionsgate's young adult blockbuster franchise was down 50 percent from last weekend. Holdovers in general were down sharply as a result of the added presence of The Force Awakens in the marketplace. Mockingjay - Part 2 has grossed $254.44 million in 31 days, which places the film 12 percent behind the $289.36 million 31-day take of last year's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.

Warner's Creed and Disney's The Good Dinosaur claimed fifth and sixth place with respective estimated takes of $5.09 million and $4.23 million. Creed was down 50 percent from last weekend, while The Good Dinosaur fell a troubling 59 percent. Respective 26-day totals stand at a softer than expected $96.55 million for The Good Dinosaur and at a stronger than expected $87.90 million for Creed.

Tags: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Sisters, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, Creed, The Good Dinosaur, north-america
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