‘Star Wars’ Rings in New Year With $34 Million Record Rampage at Box Office

Disney’s “The Force Awakens” heads for record $95 million third weekend, while “The Hateful Eight” is looking at an $18 million 3-day total

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens” began 2016 the same way it ended 2015 on Friday, crushing the competition, breaking records and taking the No. 1 spot at the North American box office with $34.4 million.

The record New Year’s Day haul puts Disney’s J.J. Abrams-directed space epic on course for a $95 million weekend, enough to swamp its nearest rivals — the holdover comedy “Daddy’s Home” and Quentin Tarantino‘s “The Hateful Eight.”

This also gives “The Force Awakens” its third consecutive weekend triumph, and sets it on course for a new mark for the biggest third weekend at the box office, ahead of the $68.5 million taken in by “Avatar” in 2010.

In another milestone, on Friday “The Force Awakens” passed the $658 million total of “Titanic” and is now No. 2 on the all-time domestic box office list with $686 million, behind only the $760 million brought in by “Avatar.”  And it has now topped the $652 million rung up by 2015’s domestic box office leader “Jurassic World.”

Elsewhere, The PG-13-rated comedy “Daddy’s Home,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, took in an estimated $11.5 million for Paramount on Friday and could hit $30 million for the weekend. That would be just a 25 percent drop from its first weekend and puts its domestic total over $95 million.

“The Hateful Eight” took in $6.4 million on Friday after expanding Wednesday from 100 to 2,374 theaters for the Weinstein Company. That projects to an $18 million three-day total which, coupled with the roughly $6.5 million it managed on Wednesday and Thursday, would give it a five-day haul in the $25 million range and a domestic total of roughly $31 million.

That would put the opening for the $44 million “The Hateful Eight,” which began a 100-theater six-day exclusive run of 70mm showings on Christmas Day, under that of the writer-director’s 2012 hit “Django Unchained” ($30.1 million) and 2009’s “Inglorious Basterds” ($38 million). The slave tale opened on Christmas Day, the war saga in August.

Writer-director David O. Russell‘s “Joy” was in a battle for fourth place with two third-week holdovers, “Sisters” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip,” with all three likely to finish between $10 million and $12 million for the weekend. Universal’s Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy took in $4.8 million Friday (off just three percent from last Friday), while Fox’s kids film managed $4.4 million (off 29 percent) and the comedy-drama starring Jennifer Lawrence was at $4 million (-42 percent).

Paramount’s financial crisis comedy “The Big Short” and Sony’s Will Smith NFL drama “Concussion” followed on Friday and are on pace for $9 million and $8 million three-day totals. The “Point Break” remake is headed for $7 million for Warner Bros. and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2” for $5 million.

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