It’s once again December and just like last year we can look forward to another Star Wars movie, Rogue One. If that’s not your thing, worry not, there has to be something for you too this month.
About 11 movies open wide this December in the US, more or less the same as a year ago when The Force Awakens shattered just about every box office record. Obviously we won’t be seeing a repeat of that with Rogue One, but it should easily top the month and possibly even the year, at least worldwide. But more on that in a bit.
December 2nd brings supernatural horror Incarnate and something called Believe. That last one will be out in just 637 theaters so it barely qualifies as a wide release. Basically it’s not going to really register, think half a million to a million opening weekend and maybe twice that overall. Incarnate is also a nonstarter, looking at a $3 million start and likely a final cume of about $6-7 million.
On December 9th we have R-rated comedy Office Christmas Party. This could very well become 2016’s Sisters, a film that opened to $13.9 million and made its way to 87 million in the US, despite opening against The Force Awakens. The holiday theme and lack of any competition that weekend could give it a strong edge and push the flick to a $15-20 million start. After that and depending on how well it’s received, Office Christmas Party could end up with $60-80 million domestically.
La La Land opens in select theaters on December 9th but goes wide on December 16th. No idea how many theaters it will have, especially with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Collateral Beauty out that same weekend. So really with this film I’m simply going to make a wild guess. Now I’m not going to pretend my other box office predictions are anything more than that, but at least in most cases I have access to addition information that can help me make a more educated guess. With that in mind I’m going to say $7 million opening weekend and $70 million overall in the US for La La Land. Oh and over $100 million worldwide.
Collateral Beauty is a drama starring Will Smith and like La La Land it’s going to act as counterprogramming to Rogue One. On the low end I expect this to play like last December’s Will Smith film, Concussion. That debuted to $10.5 million on Christmas and finished with $34.5 million. On the other end is Seven Pounds, also a December release, only this was back in 2008 when Will Smith was arguably a much bigger draw. Seven Pounds started with $14.8 million and went on to gross $70 million in the US. Let’s go with the middle ground for Collateral Beauty, $12 million opening weekend, $50 million domestically and $100 million worldwide.
And now we’ve finally come to the main event, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Tracking suggests the spin-off/prequel could open around $135 million, which would be the 2nd best December start of all time. Obviously 2nd to The Force Awakens‘ $248 million a year ago. Looking at the presales I think Rogue One can do even better, so I’ll go with $148 million. Now if it has Episode VII‘s box office legs, $500-550 million is where it might ultimately land in US. But that’s going to be very hard, so let’s instead say $450-500 million. Over $1 billion worldwide should be relatively easy for Rogue One and to best Captain America: Civil War (the current number 1 film of 2016) it needs more than $1.15 billion, also doable.
December 21st is when things really start to go into overdrive with sci-fi Passengers, sci-fi Assassin’s Creed and animation Sing. Who are the geniuses that thought releasing two sci-fi movies just five days after Rogue One was a good idea? One of those is going to crash and as much as I love the video game series it’s based on, Assassin’s Creed will most likely be the one doing the crashing. I’m thinking $12 million opening weekend (movie drops on a Wednesday and Christmas falls on Sunday this year, important things to keep in mind if you think that number seems too low), $50-60 million overall domestically and $200-300 million worldwide. Not atrocious, but also not enough to get a sequel green lit.
Passengers‘ biggest selling point is its two stars, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Also the premise is pretty cool. At the same time recent trailers for the film suggest Sony might not know how to promote Passengers, which is sadly not a good sign. That being said the movie will still do gangbusters at the box office, $40 million opening weekend, $160-200 million in the US and $500 million worldwide.
Illumination Enterintament’s Sing is the other big release of the Christmas weekend and based on the trailers I think this will be a first choice during the holiday for many families with young children. Also it’s frigging Illumination, so of course kids will go nuts over it. That means $30 million opening weekend, $150-200 million domestically and $500-600 million worldwide for the studio’s first musical.
Why Him? is another R-rated comedy, only this one hits theaters on December 23rd. Between the two I think that weekend most people will pick the one with Christmas in its name. So $7 million debut for Why Him?, $30 million total in the US and let’s say $50 million worldwide.
And now we’ve come to the last wide release of 2016, Denzel Washington drama Fences. Opens December 25th and if I know one thing about Mr. Washington is he gets butts in seats. In this case that’s not going to be as much as something like say The Magnificent Seven ($93.1 million) or The Equalizer ($101.5 million), but it will be more than you’d expect from this sort of movie. Think more along the lines of The Great Debaters, his previous directorial effort, which made $30.2 million domestically. No opening weekend here since Fences debuts on Sunday, just a final cume, $35 million.
I guess that’s it for 2016 and it feels really weird saying that. Next up is January 2017 with a new Underworld, a new Resident Evil, the return of a guy called Xander Cage and much more.