Smaller movies do well against Star Wars in US

Cause to celebrate: The stars of Daddy's Home (above from left) Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini and Mark Wahlberg, and actress Jennifer Lawrence from Joy at the premieres of their movies in New York.
Cause to celebrate: The stars of Daddy's Home (above from left) Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini and Mark Wahlberg, and actress Jennifer Lawrence from Joy at the premieres of their movies in New York.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Cause to celebrate: The stars of Daddy's Home Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini and Mark Wahlberg, and actress Jennifer Lawrence (above) from Joy at the premieres of their movies in New York.
Cause to celebrate: The stars of Daddy's Home Will Ferrell, Linda Cardellini and Mark Wahlberg, and actress Jennifer Lawrence (above) from Joy at the premieres of their movies in New York.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES • Seven major movies braved wide or limited releases against Star Wars: The Force Awakens over the Christmas weekend and all but one - Point Break - found initial success, even if several prestige films still have a lot to prove.

As expected, The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios) was a massive No. 1 at North American cinemas, taking in about US$153.5 million (S$215.7 million) in its second weekend, for a new domestic total of US$544.6 million and a global tally of more than US$1 billion.

But other studios also had reason to celebrate, albeit on a more modest scale.

After an uneven year, Paramount successfully introduced the middle-brow comedy Daddy's Home to US$38.8 million in North American ticket sales, or roughly 50 per cent more than some box- office analysts had expected.

Paramount and a partner, Red Granite, spent US$50 million to make the film, starring Will Ferrell as a stepfather who attempts to outshine his wife's first husband (Mark Wahlberg).

Third place went to David O. Russell's Joy (20th Century Fox), which collected US$17.5 million, according to Rentrak, a box-office data service. Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence as a down-on-her-luck mother turned home shopping titan, slightly over-performed expectations; analysts had expected opening-weekend sales of about US$15 million. It cost US$60 million to make after accounting for tax incentives.

A holdover, the raunchy Tina Fey comedy Sisters (Universal Pictures), had a sturdier-than- expected second weekend, taking in US$13.9 million.

Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Fox) rounded out the top five, with US$12.7 million in ticket sales.

Arriving in sixth place was Concussion (Sony Pictures), starring Will Smith as a Nigerian doctor who battles the National Football League. It managed about US$11 million in ticket sales, an okay debut for a serious drama that cost Sony, Village Roadshow and other partners just US$35 million to make.

Still, it fell far behind other serious efforts by Smith, whose star power has been fading; Ali arrived to US$19.7 million in December 2001, after accounting for inflation.

Eating into Concussion, particularly among male moviegoers, was likely The Big Short (Paramount), which came up with US$10.5 million in ticket sales, for a new total of US$16 million since arriving in narrow release on Dec 11. Focused on a complicated subject - the American housing bubble of the mid-2000s - The Big Short cost a modest US$28 million to make.

And then there was Point Break, a US$105 million 3D action remake that faced a savage public response from the moment its first trailer arrived in May. Financed by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by a down-on-its-luck Warner Bros, the Chinese-American co-production took in only US$10.2 million.

It will look abroad for salvation. It has earned a solid US$40 million in China, where it opened on Dec 3.

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'Smaller movies do well against Star Wars in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe