By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and "Sing" loomed large at the multiplexes over the New Year's holiday, racking up the biggest grosses and ringing out 2016 on a high note.
The Star Wars spinoff topped the box office for the third consecutive weekend, earning just under $50 million for the three-day period and a projected $64 million for the four-day holiday. The movie business is tacking Monday on to New Year's weekend, because many companies and schools are observing it as a national holiday. The weekend gross pushes the space opera over the $400 million mark domestically. It currently ranks as the year's second highest-grossing domestic release, with $425 million, behind only "Finding Dory."
"Rogue One" concludes a record-annihilating year for Disney. The studio became the first to top $7 billion in a single year, has fielded four of the five top grossing domestic releases, and should see four of its movies top $1 billion at the global box office.
"Sing," the latest collaboration between Illumination and Universal, racked up $41.4 million during its second weekend in theaters. It is projected to earn $53.7 million for the four-day holiday weekend and has made $177.3 million stateside. It's the second smash of 2016 for Illumination, the maker of "Despicable Me." The company also scored with last summer's "The Secret Life of Pets."
In third place "Passengers," a critically derided science fiction romance with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, earned $16.1 million over the three-day weekend and $20.7 million over the four day. As of Sunday, its domestic haul stands at $61.4 million. With a $110 million budget and millions more spent in promotion, "Passengers" will need a lift from foreign audiences if it hopes to make money.
The same is true for Fox's "Assassin's Creed," which took in $8 million for the weekend and a projected $10 million for the holiday. The video game adaptation has earned $41 million since opening over Christmas -- a dispiriting result given its hefty $125 million budget. Movies made from games are a mixed bag. For every hit like "Mortal Combat" or "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," there are a slew of duds such as "Warcraft" and "Prince of Persia."
Fox is having more luck with "Why Him?" The R-rated comedy earned $10 million over the three day period and an estimated $13 million for the four day holiday. The film about the rivalry between a father (Bryan Cranston) and his daughter's fiancee (James Franco) has earned $37.6 million and cost an economical $38 million to produce.
Paramount's "Fences," expanded nicely. Denzel Washington directs and stars in the August Wilson adaptation, with Viola Davis playing a key supporting role. The drama earned $10.2 million over the three-day weekend and an estimated $13 million for the holiday. It has made $32.7 million since debuting three weeks ago in limited release.
Lionsgate's "La La Land," continued to capitalize on awards buzz. The musical earned $9.5 million over the weekend and is projected to make $12.3 million over the four-day holiday, which would bring its gross to an estimated $37 million. On Friday, "La La Land" passed "Hell or High Water" to become the highest-grossing movie in limited release for the year.
Fox's "Hidden Figures" looks strong. The drama about the African-American scientists and mathematicians who played a pivotal role in the early days of America's space program, earned $815,000 for the three days and $1.1 million for the four days from just 25 theaters. It goes into wide release next weekend.
"20th Century Women" and "Paterson" were released just under the wire in order to qualify for Oscars. "20th Century Women," a comedy-drama that's earned some of the best reviews of Annette Bening's career, earned $112,705 for the weekend. A24 is handling the rollout. "Patterson," a drama about a poetic bus driver, made $70,760. It is being released by Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street.