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Monday Mixer: The full-court 'Force' press

Posted Monday, December 7, 2015 at 3:54 PM Central

by John Couture

Ah, December. Normally, this month is overflowing for me. I was born on December 12th and more recently my daughter was born on December 1st four years ago. Oh, and there's that whole holiday about the jolly fat man with a penchant for red and white suits.

But this year, December is even crazier with a little thing called The Force Awakens. This is the first Star Wars film to open in December, heck it's the first Star Wars film that won't open initially in May. What effect will that have on the box office?

All signs seem to indicate that much like Field of Dreams, "if you build it, they will come." The "they" in this sense are the Star Wars fans and it's not like we need much persuasion to start a line. Star Wars fans are legendary for their allegiance to the cause and despite a setback with the abominations known as the prequels, the anticipation is palpable.

Here we are, a mere 11 days from release and it's becoming clear that The Force Awakens is poised for unprecedented (in December anyhow) success. Will it set new records? Almost assuredly. Will it become the highest grossing film of all time? Only time will tell.

What we do know is that next Friday will kick off a massive 18 months in which we will get not one, not two, but three new Star Wars films. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in and rejoice that we live in a wonderful time. Did anyone seriously think we would ever get to this place 20 years ago? Five years ago? I say bring it on, sort of like this week's MM.

Box Office 411

After having a very favorable drop in its second week, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 fell a huge 64% this week to $18.6 million. Still, the amount was enough for the final Hunger Games film to once again snag the top spot at the box office.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 has now banked a total of $227 million and it has one more weekend of relative box office breeze before everything becomes all about the Star Wars. As it stands, Mockingjay Part 2 will finish far behind the other three films when it finishes up its domestic run. At this point, our initial guess of $275 million seems like a longshot and $255 million seems more likely.

Again, this is all gravy for Lionsgate as they split the last film in two, but as we have said all along, this film's performance should serve as a cautionary tale for studios moving forward with their lucrative franchises.

One of the more positive stories this weekend though was the film that opened in second place, Krampus. The dark twist on the traditional holiday film, Krampus scored well with its $16 million opening. The horror-comedy is sort of in uncharted territory here and the effect of The Force Awakens on it is really unknown. It's quite possible that Krampus could be one of the very few films to see a Star Wars bump in the next couple of weeks as screenings for The Force Awakens sell out.

Creed and The Good Dinosaur shared third place in a virtual tie with $15.5 million apiece. For Creed, the drop of less than 50% is a good sign that the film will continue to do well as we get deeper into awards season. On the other hand, The Good Dinosaur is just about at the end of its earning cycle. Not only will it lose some business to The Force Awakens next week, but it also gets competition in the family genre with the debut of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

While The Good Dinosaur should still top $100 million, it's all but certain to become the lowest grossing Pixar film of all time. For the record, I would like to toot my own horn as I predicted this sub-par performance from The Good Dinosaur at the beginning of the year.

We have one more weekend before The Force Awakens opens and we really have no clue what to expect. Will the box office be able to support the usual spike in holiday traffic, or will The Force Awakens just dominate the action? Time will tell and that time is getting short.

Quick Hitters

  • Believe it or not, it's not all The Force Awakens this week. OK, it's mostly The Force Awakens, but still there was one or two other things that happened this week. But first, let's get caught up on all things The Force Awakens.

    It's the theory that is breaking the Internet - allegedly. In a nutshell, the theory postulates that Jar Jar Binks was really a Sith and the original plan was for him to be revealed as such in the prequels but George Lucas got cold feet after the fans' tepid reaction to him.

    It's an interesting theory and here's a video that goes over some of the finer points of it.

  • Speaking of George Lucas, he really just won't let it go. He still maintains that he was right by changing the whole Han shot first thing.

    Sorry George, you were wrong and Han definitely shot first (technically, he was the only one to shoot, but whatever).

  • If you're lucky enough to live in the United Kingdom, you can watch Star Wars on TV this month. Also, you have probably seen this most excellent trailer of all six films spliced together.

  • While idle speculation rages over Mark Hamill's involvement in The Force Awakens, the actor himself is finding ways to promote the film in his own way. Here, he teams up with Omaze to spread the word and benefit a few awesome charities. I'm just shocked no one said the iconic words, "Aren't you a little short to be a stormtrooper?"

  • I'm going on record right now that the best part of Zoolander 2 is going to be the death of Justin Bieber. Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part. The first trailer was promising and this international trailer continues the brilliance of the first look at the sequel.

  • Now, here's a trailer for a film that I am anticipating greatly. The gang is all back for Now You See Me 2 and the addition of Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan can only take the film to the next level.

  • After The Force Awakens, the one other film that I'm looking forward to this month is Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. Not only does the film look amazing, but Tarantino is resurrecting "glorious 70mm" for the occasion. Here, Samuel L. Jackson really does a great job of selling the film in this huge format.

  • Finally today, I couldn't leave you without one last Force Awakens nugget. We've shared a few trailers that attempted to cut together all of the released footage in film order, but this one is the latest and is really well done. I don't agree with the stuff at the beginning, but you can see the story start to take shape and it makes me even more excited for next week.

    Potential spoilers, I guess. The footage is all out there, but you might make connections when you see it put together like this.

These aren't the Mixers that you're looking for.