'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Establishes New Opening Weekend Benchmark with Record Breaking $247.97M; 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip' #2 with $14.29M; 'Sisters' #3 with $13.92M

on December 21, 2015 by Daniel Garris
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Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens had a truly historic debut with a record breaking opening weekend take of $247.96 million. The weekend actual for The Force Awakens ended up being nearly $10 million higher than Sunday's studio estimate thanks to a significantly stronger than expected hold on Sunday.

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 $39.16 million and 19 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 193 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 $59,982.

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 $119.12 million on Friday (which included a record breaking $57.0 million from Thursday night shows), decreased 43 percent on Saturday to gross $68.29 million and declined 11 percent on Sunday to take in $60.55 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.08 to 1.

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.

With an overseas debut of $281.0 million, the global launch for Star Wars: The Force Awakens stands at a record breaking $529.0 million. Previous record holder Jurassic World had a global launch of $524.4 million earlier this year.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened in a distant second place with $14.29 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 38.5 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 $4.13 million on Friday, increased 39 percent on Saturday to take in $5.73 million and declined 23 percent on Sunday to gross $4.43 million. That gives the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 3.46 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 $13.92 million. Like The Road Chip, the R-rated comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler also opened in line with pre-release expectations. It should also be noted that Sisters was far less expensive to produce than The Road Chip was. Sisters debuted 20 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 20 percent ahead of the $11.58 million start of This Is 40 back in December of 2012.

Sisters started with $4.96 million on Friday, declined a slim 2 percent on Saturday to gross $4.84 million and fell 15 percent on Sunday to take in $4.12 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday ratio at a solid 2.81 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 very 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 $5.69 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 $254.48 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 takes of $5.01 million and $4.35 million. Creed was down 50 percent from last weekend, while The Good Dinosaur fell a troubling 58 percent. Respective 26-day totals stand at a softer than expected $96.66 million for The Good Dinosaur and at a stronger than expected $87.83 million for Creed.

In limited release, Hindi language films Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani were both off to nice starts this weekend. UTV's Dilwale took in $1.92 million from 268 locations and has grossed $2.03 million since opening on Thursday. Eros' Bajirao Mastani followed closely behind with $1.74 million from 304 locations. Dilwale ranked in ninth place among all films this weekend, while Bajirao Mastani placed in tenth.

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