2016 is off to a 9-digit start at the box office thanks to strong December holdovers.
This is the fourth January in history to eclipse one billion dollars. The landmark was previously achieved in 2009, 2010, and 2015 wherein the top grossing January films were Gran Torino, Avatar, and American Sniper respectively.
Pictured below are top January grossers; data courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
|1||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||243,458,893||45|
|4||Ride Along 2||70,775,210||17|
|5||13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi||42,573,845||17|
|6||Kung Fu Panda 3||41,282,042||3|
|7||The Hateful Eight||38,977,772||38|
|9||The Big Short||36,905,299||52|
|10||Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip||27,681,603||45|
|15||The 5th Wave||20,188,149||10|
|17||Norm of the North||15,917,517||17|
|19||The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2||11,163,369||73|
Star Wars: The Force Awakens led January spending at the multiplexes.
Disney’s highly successful seventh installment in the Star Wars saga accounted for 23% of total box office receipts. That sort of market share is high, but not unprecedented; last year’s American Sniper tallied up 24% of January receipts.
Star Wars fever showed another sign of subsiding when on January 22nd its theater count dropped down to 3,365. This reduction in theaters ended the blockbuster’s five week streak as the widest release in the country. No film has been the widest release for five straight weeks since The Hunger Games (2012) and Night at the Museum (2006) each reigned for six straight weeks. As indicated on the chart below, super-wide releases of 4,000+ theaters are becoming far more common since the turn of the century, drastically reducing the ability for a film to remain the widest release for so many weeks in a row.
|Year||# of 4,000+ |
|2015||8||4,311 • Minions|
|2014||6||4,324 • The Amazing Spider-Man 2|
|2013||7||4,253 • Iron Man 3|
|2012||9||4,404 • The Dark Knight Rises|
|2011||5||4,375 • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2|
|2010||6||4,468 • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse|
|2009||9||4,455 • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince|
|2008||5||4,366 • The Dark Knight|
|2007||5||4,362 • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End|
|2006||4||4,133 • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest|
|2005||1||4,142 • Madagascar|
|2004||3||4,223 • Shrek 2|
|2003||0||3,749 • X2: X-Men United|
|2002||0||3,876 • Spider-Man|
|2001||0||3,715 • Shrek|
|2000||0||3,669 • Mission: Impossible II|
Among January releases, Ride Along 2 and 13 Hours nabbed the top spots.
Despite the Ride Along 2‘s dismal critical reception, the sequel managed a $35M opening weekend, solidifying the likelihood of a threequel from the comedy duo. Michael Bay’s 13 Hours put out relatively smaller numbers. 13 is the third lowest opening weekend from director Michael Bay, who tends to put his efforts into much flashier summer blockbusters such as the Transformers films he has helmed since 2007.
Dreamworks Animation’s (DWA) Kung Fu Panda 3 opened January 29th and earned $41M, the highest opening weekend of the month. This recent success has come at a pivotal point in Dreamworks’ history. Just twelve months ago, the studio was in the middle of eliminating 500 jobs and shutting down its northern California offices.
Despite the painful downsizing stateside, DWA is strategically expanding in China through a joint venture with multiple Chinese media corporations. This Chinese venture, known as Oriental Dreamworks, has been producing DWA television content since its inception in 2012. However, Kung Fu Panda 3 marks the Chinese studio’s feature film debut. Oriental Dreamworks co-produced Panda 3 with DWA, USA and is developing a totally original film slated for 2018. The Chinese box office has responded well to Panda 3, the film opened to $57M there – $15M higher than the US opening.
Looking ahead to February, a relatively slower month at the box office, 2016 is bringing in 12 wide releases, up from 10 in 2015. They include the highly anticipated R-rated superhero flick, Deadpool, and the fictional Hollywood period dramedy, Hail, Caesar! – my most anticipated film of the month.