By Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter
The Force is once again ruling the Christmas box office.
Lucasfilm and Disney’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is showing incredible staying power, grossing an estimaed $15 milllion on Saturday from 4,157 theaters for an estimated four-day holiday gross of $110 million or more — more than half its nearest rival, Sing. Last year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens likewise dominated the year-end holidays.
Being Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 can see theater traffic slow considerably. It picks up again notably on Christmas afternoon after presents are unwrapped. Monday is an official holiday, so it’s a four-day weekend.
Even though it is losing to Rogue One, Illumination and Universal’s animated holiday offering Sing is no slouch. The animated film took in an estimated $7.8 million Saturday from 4,022 theaters for a projected four-day weekend of $51 million-$54 million and six-day debut of $71 million-$75 million.
The $75 million family film, easily holding at No. 2, opened Wednesday opposite Passengers and Assassin’s Creed, both of which are lagging.
Passengers, the sci-fi space romance starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, took in an estimated $2.8 million Saturday from 3,478 runs to come in No. 4. The film’s projeced four-day take is $20 million for a six-day launch of $27 million. Sony had hoped for a $30 million-$40 million start. Passengers, which could be feeling the impact of poor reviews, cost $110 million to $120 million to make after tax incentives and rebates.
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Video game adaptation Assassin’s Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, is in even worse shape. The movie, holding at No. 4, earned an estimated $2.2 Saturday from 2,970 locations for a projected four-day weekend of $15 million and six-day start of $22 million-$23 million. New Regency financed the $125 million movie, which Fox is releasing.
Coming in No. 4, Assassin’s Creed has garnered even worse reviews than Passengers, although it did slightly better than Passengers in terms of its CinemaScore (B+ versus a B). Both films are disappointing so far. Sing, costing a least $75 million to make, earned an A CinemaScore.
On Friday, Fox opened the R-rated comedy Why Him?, starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco. The movie, rounding out the top five, took in an estimated $1.8 million Saturday for a four-day start of $14 million from 2,970 theaters.
The year-end holiday stretch is the most crowded corridor at the box office, between wide players and awards contenders. Films rolling during this time can rack up strong multiples between Dec. 25 and the end of New Year’s weekend since kids are out of school and many adults are off from work, and Passengers in particular is counting on picking up.
On Christmas Day, both Denzel Washinton’s Fences expands nationwide in 2,200 theaters, while a slew of other awards contenders are opening in limited runs, including Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, Hidden Figures, 20th Century Women and Toni Erdmann.
Also making a major push Sunday is indie box-office sensation La La Land, which has earned nearly $10 million to date from only 201 theaters. Today, Lionsgate’s musical, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, will be playing in a total of 734 locations.
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There’s also a crop of award contenders that opened this past week in select theaters, including Boston Marathon bombing drama Patriots Day, A Monster Calls, Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Julieta, and Paterson.
Patriots Day, rolling out Wednesday in seven theaters in Boston, Los Angeles and New York, is hoping for a six-day location average of $40,000. Silence, opening Friday in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles, is projected to post a location average of $43,000 for the four-day holiday weekend.