December box office numbers helped 2016 end on ... a note. The good news and the bad news almost exactly balance out. On the one hand, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will finish the year with more than $400 million after just 16 days of release. That’s a stunning amount of money that helped 2016 earn a record box office at the domestic market. However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned $650 million during December of 2015, so the month lost a lot of its lead over 2015, so much so that ticket sales fell behind last year’s total. The weakness at the end of the year will spill over into 2017, which is terrible news. A slow start could result in the dominant box office story being 2017 struggles compared to 2016. Bad news like this can sometimes become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, 2017 is also going to get off to a slow start when it comes to wide releases / expansions. There are 16 films scheduled to open or expand wide this month and none of them are expected to get to $100 million. It is likely none of them will even get very close. xXx: Return of Xander Cage is expected to be the best of a weak bunch, but I could see it getting beat by one of the five Oscar contenders opening wide this month, if it gets off to a slow start and one of the Oscar contenders starts picking up steam. Hidden Figures got off to a great start on Christmas Day and should it continue to earn Awards Season recognition, including some Oscar nominations, it could be in wide release well into February. Last January wasn’t as busy with 13 films opening or expanding wide over five weeks. Of these, two of them, The Revenant and Kung Fu Panda 3, topped $100 million domestically, while another, Ride Along 2, came close. 2017 is going to get destroyed in the year-over-year comparison.
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