Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 6.
New Year, new movies.
Despite several new releases premiering today, the weekend's box office results will face tough comparisons compared to the same weekend last year, according to analysts.
Revenue from the weekend's top 10 films could total a "respectable" $122 million, but would still be down 15% vs. 2016's same weekend, MKM Partners' managing director Eric Handler said.
"The box office has good product depth with four films projected to exceed the $15 million mark, led by carryover titles Rogue One and Sing along with the wide release of Hidden Figures," he wrote in a note today.
However, last year's comparisons will prove difficult to beat due to the successful wide release of Academy Award-winning film The Revenant from 20th Century Fox (FOXA) combined with strong staying power from Walt Disney's (DIS - Get Report) Star Wars: The Force Awakens, both of which grossed around $40 million, Handler added.
This weekend, Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and animated musical Sing from Comcast's (CMCSA - Get Report) Universal Pictures will fight for first place, with the Star Wars prequel on pace for an estimated $24 million gross and the latter close behind with projected revenue of $23 million, according to MKM. BoxOfficePro analysts are expecting Rogue One to finish in first place with $29.0 million and Sing to take second with $25.5 million.
Fox's new release Hidden Figures, which tells the story of three African-American women at NASA, is forecast to debut in third place and generate between $20 million and $21 million, according to analyst estimates. Rounding out the top five should be new release Underworld: Blood Wars from Sony (SNE - Get Report) and musical La La Land from Lionsgate (LGF) .
Rogue One has finished atop the domestic box office for three consecutive weekends and has earned $774.9 million globally, according to recent comScore data.
During the first quarter, the box office is projected to fall 8% due to tough comparisons from hits last year, such as The Force Awakens, Deadpool, Zootopia and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, MKM noted.
Additionally, Imax (IMAX - Get Report) could be a winner this weekend, benefiting from the opening of Rogue One in China. On the same weekend last year, Imax's China 270 screens grossed $8.1 million from the opening of The Force Awakens, snagging a 15% market share and $30,000 average revenue per screen, MKM said.
"With a theatre count now roughly 35%-40% higher, a 33% lower revenue per screen of $20k for Rogue One would still produce a $7 million+ weekend for IMAX's China screens," Handler added.