Thanks to Black Friday’s tickets sales, the domestic box office clicked past the $10B mark for the eighth year in a row.
But what makes this year special is that we arrived at this point in record time. The National Association of Theater Owners revealed this fact tonight, with ComScore also supporting stats.
Through yesterday we were at $9.95B, meaning today had to gross $45.1M to hit $10B. According to late night industry estimates tonight, the top 24 titles made $69.3M today.
Last year–which hit an all-time record of $11.1B for U.S./Canadian ticket sales–we crossed the $10B point on Dec. 11, 17 days later than this year. In 2013 ,we cleared $10B on Dec. 7, while in 2012 we hit that mark on Dec. 8.
A year ago at this time,there was concern whether we’d even hit $11B, but Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Forces Awakens blasted us past that number. This year, through last weekend, we’ve been buzzing ahead of 2015 at +4.6%.
However, trackers are expecting Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Rogue One to fall short of Force Awakens $247.96M record domestic opening by -44% to -60% with $100M-$140M.
So will this year’s domestic B.O. fall short of 2015?
Here’s what ComScore’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian had to say tonight:
“The $652M that Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned in the last 14 days of 2015 will make for very tough late December comparisons and how 2016 measures up year over year at that point will determine whether or not we a post a record North American box office total. The 4.2% YTD advantage we now enjoy through November 24 vs. 2015 will get chipped away at as we move into the middle and late December corridor. But the solid momentum coming off of a bigger-than-expected Thanksgiving and the cumulative performance of all the films in the marketplace now and opening in the next month or so could offset much of that difference and hand us a new record year. Though it’s likely the ultimate percentage over last year will get knocked in half, we would grab a new record nonetheless and the second only $11B-plus year at the North American box office. It will be a hard fought battle right up until New Year’s eve, but given the unpredictability and volatility of the box office year of 2016, we should continue to expect the unexpected.”
Essentially, a sober forecast as of right now would see 2016 at $11.35B, +1.9% over last year’s $11.1B.
During the summer, we saw 2016 clicking ahead of 2015, despite the slowdown (or in certain cases breakdown) of franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Jason Bourne and X-Men. But it was the pre-summer frame that surprised with groundbreaking films like Deadpool and The Jungle Book. No matter what general audiences, critics or even studio accountants, you can’t take away the fact that Warner Bros.’ DC two hander of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad successfully performed, together earning $655.46M stateside.
Even though six titles last year cleared over $300M with two over $600M, all together they added up to $2.8B. This year, there’s eight over $300M, with the top two pics-Disney’s Finding Dory and Captain American: Civil War clicking past $400M. The sum of those eight titles is quite close to $3B. So essentially, there’s more breadth in the market, and that’s propelling us toward a brand new domestic record.
More stats to chew on: Last year’s crop of Christmas holiday releases along with Force Awakens, drove domestic ticket sales to $1.04B between Dec. 18-Dec. 31. What makes 2016 unique is that it’s book-ended by two Star Wars films: $284.7M of Force Awakens’ record domestic total $936.66M and whatever Rogue One makes. Should the Gareth Edwards movie gross north of $367M, that coupled with Force Awaken’s 2016 carryover, could well equal the total 2015 $652M North American tickets sales of Force Awakens. Further hope resides in the continued strong play of Moana and Fantastic Beasts into next weekend, which is historically one of the calendar’s weakest frames at the B.O.