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