Box office: 'Star Wars' makes Christmas history

Pamela McClintock
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Makes Box Office History
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Makes Box Office History


The continuing might of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is making for a very merry Christmas at the North American box office.

According to early returns, Force Awakens could earn $35 million-$40 million from 4,134 theaters on Friday, blasting past the $24.6 million opening of Sherlock Holmes on Dec. 25, 2009 to secure the biggest Christmas Day gross of all time. To boot, overall revenue is also expected to hit a record for Dec. 25, when moviegoing surges in the afternoon.

For the weekend, conservative estimates show Force Awakens earning $120 million, meaning it will finish Sunday with a North American cume of more than $500 million, the second-best showing of the year to date behind Jurassic World ($652.3 million). It would also mark the biggest second weekend in history (Jurassic World is the current record-holder with $106 million).

To see more on the movie's opening night, scroll through the gallery below:

Read MoreBox Office: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Tops 'Revenge of the Sith' in U.S.

J.J. Abrams' movie is hardly the only choice. Four new movies are opening nationwide on Christmas Day -; Daddy's Home,Joy, Concussion and Point Break -; while Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant open in select theaters. Hateful Eight debuts exclusively in 70mm film in 100 theaters, while The Revenant opens in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Among the wide players, Daddy's Home and Joy are looking like the biggest winners so far in the face of competition from Force Awakens.

Daddy's Home, the second comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg after The Other Guys, looks to come in No. 2 on Christmas Day with roughly $10 million from 3,271 locations, including $1.2 million in Thursday-night previews. The $50 million comedy, from Paramount and Red Granite, has a strong chance of grossing north of $25 million for the weekend. Daddy's Home was produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Prods.

Directed by David O. Russell and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joy is likewise also off to a strong start. The Fox dramedy looks to earn $7 million-plus from 2,896 theaters on Friday for a projected $20 million-plus weekend. (Fox is also releasing The Revenant.)

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Joy is among a handful of high-profile awards contenders that have waited until the year-end holidays to open, a crop that includes Hateful Eight and Revenant.

Another is Sony and Village Roadshow's Concussion, starring Will Smith. The NFL drama is off to a muted start, with box-office pundits projecting a $4 million Friday from 2,841 locations and a $10 million-plus weekend. Heading into Christmas, tracking suggested the $35 million movie would open in the high-teens, although Sony was much more conservative in suggesting $8 million-$10 million.

Alcon Entertainment's extreme-sports extravaganza Point Break is out-and-out struggling, considering its $100 million budget. A loose remake of the classic 1991 film, the movie may only earn $3 million from 2,910 theaters on Friday for a $9 million weekend.

Point Break has already opened in China, where it has grossed $40 million to date, and several other smaller Asian markets for a foreign cume so far north of $43 million. Alcon has suffered a string of box-office disappointments, including last year's big-budget flop Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp.

Read MoreBox Office: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Heads for $1 Billion at Record Pace

McKay and Paramount are on double duty this weekend between Daddy's Home and awards contender The Big Short, directed by McKay and starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo. The financial dramedy has made a strong showing in its limited run before expanding nationwide Wednesday 1,585 locations, a relatively small footprint.

Big Short, costing $28 million, is tracking to open in the $9 million-$10 million range for Paramount, New Regency and Pitt's Plan B after a projected Christmas Day gross of $3 million.

The week between Christmas and New Year's weekend is the most lucrative corridor of the year in terms of moviegoing, and the new films are hoping for strong multiples even with Force Awakens dominating much of the marketplace.

To see more on the trailer, scroll through the gallery below:


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