LOS ANGELES • The Revenant, the western adventure movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, took a first step last Friday towards ousting Star Wars: The Force Awakens from atop the weekend box-office rankings.
Released by 20th Century Fox, The Revenant brought in US$14.4 million (S$20.8 million) in North American theatres last Friday, including US$2.3 million in preview screenings on Thursday night, boxoffice.com said.
Disney's The Force Awakens grossed US$10.8 million on Friday, raising its domestic total to US$781.1 million in 22 days, boxoffice.com said on Saturday.
The website predicted The Revenant will tally about US$36.5 million in sales for the full weekend, and trail The Force Awakens for the three-day period.
In the film by acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu and set in the 1820s frontier, DiCaprio, 41, plays a fur trapper Hugh Glass who is seeking revenge against people who left him for dead after a bear attack.
The film handicapping website Goldderby.com says that thanks to his portrayal of Glass, DiCaprio will likely win for Best Actor In A Dramatic Role at the Golden Globe awards yesterday (today Singapore time), and Best Actor at the Oscars on Feb 28. He has come up empty-handed despite having five Oscar nominations.
He has been on the press circuit talking about the arduous shoot, in which he eats a piece of bison liver. He told NBC last week that the filming in Canada and Argentina was the hardest he has ever done. He was forced to film buck-naked in the snow, climb snow-covered mountains in sub-freezing temperatures wearing thick furs, spend hours lying still in the cold and swim in frozen rivers. Inarritu has also said he had to fly ants twice, first class, to Calgary, Alberta, for them to crawl over DiCaprio.
The strong reviews and awards buzz around the pair probably helped the film pull in moviegoers, potentially ending three weeks of dominance by The Force Awakens. It had opened two weeks ago in limited release, selling US$1.6 million in tickets.
Meanwhile, The Force Awakens premiered over the weekend in China, the world's second-largest movie market. A Disney spokesman said that "current indications point towards an opening day gross of around US$33 million".
That would make it the biggest opening day ever in China for Disney and the biggest Saturday opening day for any film in history.
It is also the second-biggest single-day gross of all time behind Furious 7 (US$54.4 million), which debuted on a Sunday, said The Hollywood Reporter.
BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE