Star Wars: The Force Awakens barrels towards Avatar's record

Star Wars characters and the Millennium Falcon adorn Disneyland's float celebrating the park's 60th anniversary, in the 127th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year's Day.
Star Wars characters and the Millennium Falcon adorn Disneyland's float celebrating the park's 60th anniversary, in the 127th Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year's Day.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (VARIETY) - Having vanquished Titanic and Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set its sights on Avatar. The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy earned blue aliens as the top grossing film in history.

Avatar earned US$760.5 million (S$1.79 billion) during its entire stateside run, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already generated US$740.4 million domestically after picking up US US$88.3 million over New Year's weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

Even as The Force Awakens commanded the bulk of box office revenues a few films managed to profit from the holiday season. Paramount's Daddy's Home, a comedy about a nerdy stepfather (Will Ferrell) who finds himself outshone by his wife's first husband (Mark Wahlberg), picked up US$29 million in its second weekend, driving the film's domestic total to US$93.7 million.

The Weinstein Company did relatively well after moving up the wide release of The Hateful Eight by a week. The revisionist western from Quentin Tarantino racked up US$16.2 million to finish in third place, a solid start, though on the lower-end for wide-release debuts from the director.

The Hateful Eight trails the US$30.1 million launch for Django Unchained or the US$38 million kickoff for Inglourious Basterds. It has made US$29.6 million since debuting in a limited number of 70mm theatres over Christmas.

Universal's Sisters, a Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pairing, continued to show impressive endurance, snagging fourth place with US$12.6 million. The film has made US$61.7 million in three weeks of release, putting it ahead of Fey and Poehler's previous teaming on Baby Mama, which made US$60.5 million during its run in 2008.

Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip added US$11.8 million to its US$67.4 million in receipts to round out the top five. The studio also fielded Joy, an off-beat biopic about the creator of the Miracle Mop, which earned US$10.4 million in its second weekend to bring its total to US$38.7 million.

Despite its wonky premise, The Big Short appears to be an awards season breakout. The comedy about the financial crisis of 2008 earned US$9 million last weekend, bringing its total to just under US$33 million. Paramount is releasing the film, which stars Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale as savvy investors who bet against the housing market and won.

Sony's Concussion took in an estimated US$8 million for, bringing its domestic haul to US$25.4 million. Will Smith stars as a crusading doctor who takes on professional football for its indifference to the health and safety of its players.

Point Break, a remake of the 1991 cult favourite about extreme sports enthusiasts who double as bank robbers, is shaping up to be a costly dud. Financed by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., the action adventure made US$6.8 million over the weekend, bringing its domestic total to US$22.4 million. That's a calamitous result for a film that carries a US$105 million price tag.

Among Oscar hopefuls, The Revenant picked up US$450,000 from four theatres, for a hearty per-location average of US$112,500. The bloody revenge epic stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy and is directed by Birdman's Alejandro G. Innarritu. Cast and crew drove themselves to the breaking point filming in remote locations - a gamble that cost the film's backers, New Regency and RatPac-Dune, US$135 million to make.

So far, The Revenant has made US$1.3 million. It opens nationwide next weekend.

Paramount's Anomalisa earned US$140,000 from four locations for a per-screen average of US$35,000. The stop-motion film about a customer service expert in the throes of an emotional crisis was directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. It has earned US$215,000 since opening last Wednesday and received critical acclaim.