‘Star Wars’ Tops DiCaprio for Fourth U.S. Box Office Win

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” led the box office in North America for a fourth weekend, holding off the Leonardo DiCaprio awards contender “The Revenant.”

“The Force Awakens” generated $41.6 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, for a domestic total of $812 million since Dec. 18 -- the most of any film, researcher Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in a statement. “The Revenant,” a frontier revenge saga in expanded release for the first time, took in $38 million.

The seventh “Star Wars” episode, the first by Walt Disney Co., has racked up more than 40 box office records. In the past week it overtook “Avatar” as the biggest U.S. movie ever. The film completes its global rollout this weekend with its debut in China, the world’s second-largest movie market.

“It’s sprinted to these numbers -- the question now is if it has the capability to beat ‘Avatar’” worldwide, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak, said in a phone interview.

The “Star Wars” movie has recorded more than $1.7 billion globally, Rentrak said. Analysts expect it to surpass $2 billion. Unless the film significantly surpasses expectations in China, it is unlikely to break the global box office record of $2.79 billion set by “Avatar,” which was released in 2009.

The last movie to top the North American box office for four straight weekends was “Furious 7” in April, Rentrak said.

“The Revenant,” released by 20th Century Fox, was in limited release over the holidays. It was forecast by the studio to generate more than $20 million for the weekend, while Boxoffice.com predicted $30 million.

1820s Revenge

Set in the 1820s, “The Revenant” features DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is seeking revenge against people who left him for dead. Co-produced by New Regency Pictures, it is directed and co-written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who took home last year’s Academy Award for best director, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson also star in the picture.

The movie, beset by production issues as the cast and crew chased snowy conditions for the shoot, cost $135 million to make, a figure that doesn’t include marketing costs, according to Box Office Mojo. Critics received the film warmly, with 81 percent giving positive reviews, according to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com.

Bankable Star

“The Revenant” proves that DiCaprio is “one of the most bankable stars working today no matter what role he’s playing -- whether he’s a corrupt Wall Streeter or a grizzled fur-trapper in the woods,” Dergarabedian said.

The film is up for Golden Globe awards on Sunday including best drama, best director and best actor for DiCaprio.

“It features a battalion of very fine, hardworking actors, none more diligently committed than Mr. DiCaprio, and some of the most beautiful natural tableaus you’re likely to see in a movie this year,” Manohla Dargis wrote in the New York Times.

“The Revenant” outdrew another new wide release this weekend, “The Forest,” which took in $13.1 million in its debut, beating a forecast of $8.5 million from BoxOffice.com. The Gramercy Pictures project received only 13 percent positive reviews, according to Rottentomatoes.com.

Natalie Dormer is featured as a young woman who searches for her twin sister in a haunted Japanese forest and becomes surrounded by paranormal forces.

Weekend sales for the top 10 films rose 34 percent to $140.6 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. Sales in North America for all of 2015 rose 7.4 percent to $11.1 billion -- the first year ever to top $11 billion, Rentrak said.

The following table has U.S. box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales for Jan. 8-9, and estimates for Sunday.

                    Rev.    Pct.             Avg./  Total
 Movie             (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater  (mln)   Wks
================================================================
1 Star Wars        41.6    -54    4,134   10,070    812.0    4
2 Revenant         38.0  8,385    3,375   11,259     39.6    3
3 Daddy’s Home     15.0    -49    3,483    4,307    116.3    3
4 Forest           13.1     --    2,451    5,340     13.1    1
5 Sisters           7.2    -44    2,864    2,505     73.9    4
6 Hateful Eight     6.4    -60    2,938    2,162     41.5    3
7 Big Short         6.3    -30    2,529    2,491     42.8    5
8 Alvin And The     5.5    -54    2,972    1,851     75.6    4
9 Joy               4.5    -56    2,513    1,791     46.6    3
10 Concussion       3.1    -60    2,056    1,508     31.0    3

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $140.6 $104.7 34.3

Year-to-date Revenue

2016 2015 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $444 $349 27.2 Source: Rentrak Corp.
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