Oscar box office report: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ sets new record; ‘The Hateful Eight,’ ‘The Revenant’ stay strong

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” continues to shatter box office records, making a staggering $94 million for Disney over New Year’s weekend, bringing its total earnings in 17 days to a jaw-dropping $744 million. On Monday, it is likely to pass all-time box office champ “Avatar,” which took in $760 million domestically. That James Cameron sci-fi epic contended for Best Picture in 2009 but lost to “The Hurt Locker,” which was helmed by Cameron’s ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow.

Nine of our 24 Oscar experts (journalists who cover this beat year-round) are predicting that this seventh instalment of the “Star Wars” will be the first of the franchise to reap a bid for Best Picture since the original. Back in 1977, that blockbuster was bested by “Annie Hall.”

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The Hateful Eight” expanded from its limited roadshow release in 100 theaters equipped with 70mm projectors to 2,474 screens nationwide. It raked in $16.7 million for a per-screen-average of $6,750; that puts it in third on the overall box office chart (the laffer “Daddy’s Home,” is second with $29 million). The three-hour plus running time, complete with overture, intermission and exit music, meant a reduced number of screenings for this Quentin Tarantino revisionist Western.  

In its sophomore frame, “The Revenant” made $390K at just four locations in New York and Los Angeles. That translates into an impressive $97,500 per screen for this Fox film.  By comparison, “Steve Jobs” did $130K in weekend one while “The Big Short” was at $90K, “Sicario” at $67K and “Carol” came in at $62K PSA. 

Paramount opened Charlie Kaufman‘s stop-motion animated feature “Anomalisa” on four screens last Wednesday. This hot prospect for Best Animated Feature has made $210,000 since then, including $135K over the weekend (PSA: $33,750). 

Among other Christmas releases, David O. Russell‘s “Joy,” inspired by the story of entrepreneur Joy Magano, slipped to sixth (from third), earned $10.5 million at 2,924 locations (PSA: $3,600) thus bringing its total tally to $38.8 million. This heartwarmer from Fox 2000 reunites the writer/director with Jennifer Lawrence, who reaped an Oscar in 2012 for their first film together (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and an Oscar bid for their second (2013’s “American Hustle”).

Paramount’s “The Big Short” was down only 15% in its second week of going wide, with a healthy haul of $8.9 million from 1,588 locations. That was good enough for a per-screen-average of $5,600 and seventh place on the overall chart. 

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Concussion,” a Columbia biopic starring Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the doctor who discovers the brain diseasechronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that affects NFL players, dropped two spots to eighth with earnings of $8.9 million on 2841 screens (PSA: $2,800) and a two-week gross of $25.3 million.

Disney is still doing well with the Pixar pic “The Good Dinosaur,” which took in $4 million (much of that at reduced kiddie admissions) and has made $115 million in six weeks.

While Warner’s “Creed” — the seventh film in the “Rocky” franchise — shed another 143 screens, it still added another $3.9 million (off just 12% from the previous weekend) for a total gross of just over $103 million in six weeks. 

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Among the limited releases, Fox Searchlight’s “Youth” grossed $320K (down 8%) at 144 locations in its fifth weekend. 

Carol” packed them in once again, raking in  $1.1 million in its seventh weekend (up 1%) as it expanded from 180 to 189 locations. The Weinstein Company release is expected to go wide after Oscar nominations are announced in mid-January. 

Our leading contender for Best Picture Spotlight” made just over $1.1 million in its ninth weekend as it dropped to 385 screens from 480. That haul brings its cumulative take to just over $27 million as awards season heats up. 

Brooklyn” added another $1.2 million (up 12%) despite contracting to 285 theaters (from 300) nationwide in its ninth week. With a PSA of $4,200 this weekend (and total gross of $20.7 million), Fox Searchlight is doing well with this period charmer that stars Saoirse Ronan, a strong Best Actress contender and NYFFC champ, as an Irish emigrant to America in the early 1950s. 

Click here to see ups and downs of Oscar races over entire awards season

As of this writing, all 24 of our Oscar experts (journalists who cover this beat for major media including Variety, Yahoo, USA Today, and Huffington Post) are predicting that “Carol,” “The Martian” and “Spotlight” will reap Best Picture bids. Twenty-three say the same about and “The Revenant” with 21 expecting a Best Picture nomination for “The Big Short” and 20 for both “Brooklyn” and “Room.” 

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“Star Wars” logo: Disney

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