The rebellion has succeeded.
Stand-alone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story captured $155 million in its domestic debut from 4,157 theaters and $290.5 million globally — the second-best showing of all time for the month of December behind last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The movie’s opening performance is a key victory for Lucasfilm and Disney as they look to expand the Star Wars film franchise beyond the core episodic films.
Mid-December has never been known for huge openings since many consumers are distracted by holiday preparations and parties; instead, titles can enjoy huge multiples. Force Awakens changed all of that when launching to $247.9 million, the top domestic bow of all time for any month of the year. (Previously, no December event film, including Avatar, had taken in north of $85 million.)
Rogue One — which doesn’t have the same nostalgia factor as Force Awakens — cost $200 million to make and is directed by Gareth Edwards. The story is set before the events in the 1977 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and follows a group of rebels, led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who obtain the plans for the Death Star, which are later given to Princess Leia. Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker also star.
The movie did robust business in Imax and premium large format theaters.
Elsewhere, New Line and Village Roadshow’s star-studded ensemble drama Collateral Beauty bombed with $7 million from 3,028 theaters in a career worst for Will Smith.
In the $36 million film, Smith plays a successful New York advertising executive struck by tragedy who writes letters to love, time and death — and gets a response. Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris co-star in the movie, which was ravaged by critics but nabbed an A- CinemaScore from audiences.
Collateral Beauty looked to serve as counter-programming to Rogue One. Females made up nearly 60 percent of the audience, with 58 percent of all ticket buyers over the age of 35.
Overseas, the drama opened $4.6 million from 16 markets, led by Mexico ($1.6 million) and Russia ($1.4 million), for a global bow of $11.6 million.
At the specialty box office, Manchester for the Sea expanded nationwide after nabbing a slew of Globe Globes and SAG award nominations last weekend. The Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions release earned $4.2 million from 1,208 theaters for a domestic total of $14 million.
Manchester narrowly beat awards rival La La Land to place No. 6.
From Lionsgate, La La Land dazzled in grossing $4 million from only 200 cinemas for a 10-day domestic total of $5.3 million. The musical earned seven Globe noms, the most of any film. Offshore, La La Land earned another $4.7 million from 14 markets for a foreign total of $11.3 million — including an impressive $9.5 million in South Korea.
New specialty openings in the U.S. included Paramount’s Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington opposite Viola Davis. The awards hopeful opened to $128,000 from four theaters in Los Angeles and New York for a screen average of $32,000. Fences, which cost north of $20 million to produce, expands nationwide on Christmas Day.
Overseas, Illumination Entertainment and Universal’s Sing took in $6.6 million from its first 15 markets for an early foreign total of $17.4 million. The animated tentpole lands in the U.S. on Dec. 21.