'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' barreling towards 'Avatar's' record

Sun Jan 3, 2016 11:55am EST
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Having vanquished "Titanic" and "Jurassic World," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has set its sights on "Avatar."

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history."Avatar" earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year's weekend. It should take the crown from "Avatar" early next week.

Globally, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ranks as the sixth highest-grossing film in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It should pass "Furious 7" and "Marvel's The Avengers" to become the fourth biggest film in history in the coming days.

The film will get a big shot in the arm next week when it premieres in China, the world's second biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People's Republic, "The Force Awakens" could shoot past "Avatar's" record $2.8 billion global haul.

Even as "The Force Awakens" commanded the bulk of box office revenues a few films managed to profit from the holiday season. Paramount's "Daddy's Home," a comedy about a nerdy stepfather (Will Ferrell) who finds himself outshone by his wife's first husband (Mark Wahlberg), picked up $29 million in its second weekend, driving the film's domestic total to $93.7 million.

The Weinstein Company did relatively well after moving up the wide release of "The Hateful Eight" by a week. The revisionist western from Quentin Tarantino racked up $16.2 million to finish in third place. That's a solid start, though on the lower-end for wide-release debuts from the director. For instance, "The Hateful Eight" trails the $30.1 million launch for "Django Unchained" or the $38 million kickoff for "Inglourious Basterds." It has made $29.6 million since debuting in a limited number of 70mm theaters over Christmas.

Universal's "Sisters," a Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pairing, continued to show impressive endurance, snagging fourth place with $12.6 million. The film has made $61.7 million in three weeks of release, putting it ahead of Fey and Poehler's previous teaming on "Baby Mama," which made $60.5 million during its run in 2008.

Fox's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip" added $11.8 million to its $67.4 million in receipts to round out the top five. The studio also fielded "Joy," an off-beat biopic about the creator of the Miracle Mop, which earned $10.4 million in its second weekend to bring its total to a robust $38.7 million.   Continued...

Cast members Daisy Ridley and John Boyega (2nd R) pose for pictures with Star Wars characters BB-8 (R) and R2-D2 (L) at the China Premiere of the film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Shanghai, China, December 27, 2015. REUTERS/Aly Song