The Christmas movie season has some Hollywood executives thanking Santa and others wondering what they did to end up with such lumps of coal.
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As expected, Walt Disney Co.'s "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" continued to rule over returns, collecting an estimated $100.7 million over the four-day weekend in the U.S. and Canada. The latest blockbuster installment in the Luke Skywalker saga has collected $397.3 million in 11 days of release and is already the third-highest-grossing movie of the year at the domestic box office. "Last Jedi" has grossed more than $775 million world-wide so far.
Disney's dominance left several newcomers fighting for box-office oxygen, to varying degrees of success.
Audiences were most interested in family-oriented "Star Wars" counterprogramming like "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and "Pitch Perfect 3," both of which made debuts with to robust results. More adult-oriented fare like "The Greatest Showman" and "Downsizing" fizzled.
With school vacations and many people taking off work, the time between Christmas and New Year's Day is among the biggest moviegoing weeks of the year. After a year of slumping returns and several big-budget bombs, theater chains are hoping the holiday offerings can make up for a lousy summer.
"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" fared best of the new crop, with the family reboot collecting $50.4 million over the four-day weekend. The movie, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black in a new iteration of the board-game adaptation, has grossed a strong $67 million since its release on Dec. 20.
"It's the all-audience movie for the holiday season," said Adrian Smith, president of domestic distribution at "Jumanji" studio Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment. Given the increased attendance throughout this week, "Jumanji" should expect to ultimately gross a hit $180 million or so.
The weekend's other success story, "Pitch Perfect 3," grossed $25.6 million over four days. The latest installment of the a cappella comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson should prove another hit for Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures, which has developed the series into an unlikely franchise for the studio.
The original "Pitch Perfect" opened to $5.1 million in 2012, but word-of-mouth turned it into a breakout hit that ultimately grossed $65 million. "Pitch Perfect 2" was a smash, grossing $184 million in 2015.
But interest in music-oriented movies seemed to end with "Pitch Perfect, " since the original musical "The Greatest Showman" fell flat with audiences. Starring Hugh Jackman as circus founder P.T. Barnum, "Showman" grossed $14 million over the long weekend and has collected a paltry $18.6 million so far. In its favor: Audiences gave it an "A" grade, according to the CinemaScore market research firm.
"Showman" was released by Twentieth Century Fox, whose parent company, 21st Century Fox, shares common ownership with News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal.
Given its positive audience reaction, "Showman" may be able to make up some lost ground this week. But two other new releases, "Downsizing" and "Father Figures," appear dead on arrival.
"Downsizing" grossed $7.3 million over the four days, and "Father Figures" took in $4.9 million.
"Downsizing" is the third adult-oriented drama from Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures to bomb at the box office in four months, following "mother!" and "Suburbicon." "Downsizing" stars Matt Damon as a man who opts to shrink himself into a bite-sized human.
"Father Figures," a comedy about two brothers (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) on a cross-country quest to learn the identity of their father, was financed by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.
"Jumanji" and "Pitch Perfect" each received a CinemaScore grade of "A-," which should boost word-of-mouth in the coming days. "Father Figures" and "Downsizing," however, received a "B-" and "C," respectively.
Write to Erich Schwartzel at firstname.lastname@example.org