By Rebecca Rubin
LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) – The holiday box office proved fruitful for a wide variety of movies as overall ticket sales reached $200 million over the weekend — a 6.3% boost from last year.
Disney and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” led the bounty, crossing $361 million in North America after this weekend’s $72 million haul. J.J. Abrams’ third and final chapter in the sequel trilogy collected $136 million over the five-day Christmas stretch. After less than two weeks in theaters, “Rise of Skywalker” has generated $725 million globally, distinguishing itself as the 10th-highest grossing movie of the year worldwide and seventh-biggest in the U.S.
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is also bringing holiday cheer, generating $16.5 million during the weekend and $29 million since Wednesday to land at No. 3. That’s a solid result for Sony and New Regency, which shelled out $40 million to produce the film. Gerwig, who wrote and directed “Little Women,” proved that seventh times’ a charm for Louisa May Alcott’s literary classic. The movie — starring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson and Laura Dern — has received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Slightly lower on box office charts, A24’s suspense thriller “Uncut Gems” debuted at No. 7, collecting $9.5 million over the traditional weekend and $18.8 million since opening on Wednesday. That marks the indie distributor’s biggest five-day launch to date despite the film’s C+ CinemaScore from audiences. U.S. ticket sales currently sit at $20 million, already making it one of the specialty studio’s highest-grossing films. Directed by brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, “Uncut Gems” has found itself in the awards conversation for Adam Sandler’s dramatic turn as a jewelry maven and gambling addict.
After “Rise of Skywalker,” Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” and Disney’s “Frozen 2” eclipsed newcomers on box office charts. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s action sequel has pocketed a huge $59 million since Wednesday, propelling its domestic tally to $175.45 million.
Meanwhile, the animated follow-up to 2013’s “Frozen” generated $16.5 million over the weekend and $26 million during the five-day holiday frame. Those dazzling ticket sales push “Frozen 2” to $421 million in North America and $1.21 billion worldwide, passing 2015’s “Minions” ($1.15 billion) to become the third-highest grossing animated movie in history.
In fifth place, Disney-Fox’s “Spies in Disguise” launched to $13 million over the three-day weekend and $22 million since Christmas Day. The animation adventure, voiced by Will Smith and Tom Holland, also amassed $16 million overseas for a global tally of $38 million.
Elsewhere, Tom Hooper’s “Cats” dropped to No. 9 on box office charts after collecting a disappointing $8.7 million over the extended holiday weekend. Universal’s musical adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage show has earned $17 million to date. The universally skewered movie is likewise stumbling at the international box office, where it ignited with a dismal $13.6 million from 38 markets. The $100 million movie has made just $38 million globally so far.
Sam Mendes’ “1917” ignited the specialty box office, scored $1 million from 11 theaters over the five-day frame, above Universal and DreamWorks’ expectations. The WWI epic follows two young British soldiers (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) tasked with the dangerous mission of delivering a message that could save hundreds of lives. “1917” debuts nationwide on Jan. 10.
In New York and Los Angeles, Warner Bros.’ “Just Mercy” pulled in $228,000 from four theaters. Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson star in the legal drama about a black man wrongly accused of murder. The film earned a rare A+ CinemaScore from moviegoers, as well as a 98% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, which could bode well as it expands nationwide in the coming weeks.
Neon’s “Clemency,” an acclaimed drama with Alfre Woodard, bowed with $37,000 from two venues, averaging $18,539 from each location.
In notable box office milestones, Rian Johnson’s murder mystery “Knives Out” surpassed the $200 million globally after crossing $100 million in domestic ticket sales this weekend.