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Star Wars still biggest present under the tree for Christmas box office

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Star Wars still biggest present under the tree for Christmas box office

Santa's on his way, with a bag full of new box office treasures for the Christmas holiday weekend.

Despite six new wide releases, Walt Disney Co.'s "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," is likely to dominate going into its sophomore weekend. Runners-up behind "The Last Jedi" will include a reboot and a sequel, with "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," perhaps edging ahead of "Pitch Perfect 3," at the ticket counter.

Holdover force "The Last Jedi," beat conservative forecasts to collect $220 million in its opening weekend, narrowing a year-over-year decline in box office revenue for 2017 to 1.7% below 2016 levels, according to research by Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Globally, Variety estimated that "The Last Jedi" would hit $600 million on Dec. 21. BoxOffice.com forecasts it will collect $115 million more over the four-day Christmas holiday weekend.

Turning to the new releases, "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" will add a layer to the 1995 fantasy adventure tale starring the late Robin Williams, Dwayne Johnson bringing his star power as the new film's lead. BoxOffice.com forecasts a $39.0 million four-day Christmas weekend opening. Variety put out a $45 million six-day estimate for the film, which launched Dec. 20. The Los Angeles Times expects the jungle adventure to collect at least $45 million, but it pointed to analyst estimates that go as high as $70 million.

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"Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
Source: Disney

The original "Jumanji" opened to $11.1 million, and exited theaters with a 10.7% profit margin against $378.7 million in total revenue. A list of comparable titles that includes the earlier "Jumanji" as well as more recent other-worldly adventures saw an average opening gross of $26.1 million, average total revenue of $459.2 million and an average profit margin of 21.0%.

Critics were largely on board with "Welcome to the Jungle," giving it a Rotten Tomatoes aggregate "Certified Fresh" score of 78% as of about 2 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

Popular, if not acclaimed, franchise installment "Pitch Perfect 3" should open in the $27 million to $29 million range over four days, according to Variety. The Times edged higher with a $30 million forecast and BoxOffice.com put out a more bullish $34 million projection.

Critics have steadily soured on the Pitch Perfect franchise, with the newest title garnering a meager 27% "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes, but with a $45 million budget, it should quickly recoup costs and turn profitable for Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures. A list of comparable titles compiled by Kagan, including the first two "Pitch Perfect" films as well as female-led comedies like "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat," saw an average opening gross of $34.2 million and average total revenue of $317.1 million, for a 37.8% profit margin.

21st Century Fox Inc.'s film studio will also weigh in with acclaimed original debut "The Greatest Showman." BoxOffice.com forecasts the musical drama will debut at $14.0 million over four days. Variety is looking for a six-day total around $20 million. The Times gave it a range of $20 million to $25 million.

The Hugh Jackman-led effort cost $84 million in production, and compares to other musicals like "Mamma Mia!," "La La Land" and "Les Miserables." However, its outsized budget versus those titles could prove problematic. "Rock of Ages," for example, cost $71.2 million and opened to $14.4 million. The film lost Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros $113.8 million by the time it exited theaters.

"The Greatest Showman" will not get much help from critics. It was running a 51% "rotten" rating as of 2 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

Two comedies, "Downsizing" and "Father Figures," round out the rest of the new release slate for Christmas weekend.

Forecasters expect "Downsizing" to bring in about $10 million to $12 million for its debut weekend. The R-rated comedy about a miniature world cost $68 million in production, a hefty price tag for the muted opening expectations. In comparison, "The Informant!", which cost less to make at $22.5 million and collected $10.5 million at opening, exited theaters in the red by $40.1 million. "Downsizing" had a 52% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as of 2 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.

"Father Figures," in which NFL quarterback and sports analyst Terry Bradshaw plays himself, is expected to collect around $7 million to $10 million at opening. That result would be muted compared to a list of comparisons compiled by Kagan, but at a $25 million production, Warner Bros. could still find profitability. The title was running at a 24% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes heading into its wide release weekend.

"All the Money in the World" is not expected to win much attention in the crowded holiday field, with opening projections of below $4 million. The film was running at a 79% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes on Dec. 22.

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