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Box office hits and misses: Star Wars stays on top despite a tough challenge from The Revenant

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens remained on top of the box-office rankings for the fourth straight week, but Leonardo DiCaprio’s gritty, Oscar-friendly Western The Revenant gave it an impressive run with a weekend so big that it actually looked like it might top the sci-fi saga’s sequel at one point.

While The Revenant and its $38 million takeaway didn’t end up dethroning The Force Awakens ($41.6 million) for the weekend, it did manage to become the first film to top J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster for a single day since the film was released. The wide release of DiCaprio and Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brutal frontier drama earned more than $14.3 million on Friday night, pushing past the $10.7 million earned by The Force Awakens that day but ultimately following short of the full-weekend honor.

While this wasn’t exactly an opening weekend for The Revenant, which has been in limited release (with screenings at fewer than 10 theaters) for several weeks now, it was the widest release for the film so far — which should give studio 20th Century Fox some warm feelings about its box-office potential down the road. If you count this weekend as the film’s “opening weekend,” The Revenant goes into the record books as the fourth-biggest debut of any film starring DiCaprio. (Shutter Island, The Great Gatsby, and Inception all had bigger opening weekends.)

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens $41.6M $812M $1,733M
2. The Revenant $38M $39.6M $59.7M
3. Daddy’s Home $15M $116.3M $154.2M
4. The Forest $13.1M $13.1M $13.1M
5. Sisters $7.2M $74.9M $83.1M
6. The Hateful Eight $6.4M $41.5M $41.5M
7. The Big Short $6.3M $42.8M $52.5M
8. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip $5.5M $75.6M $111.8M
9. Joy $4.5M $46.6M $70.7M
10. Concussion $3.1M $31M $32.4M

The only true new release to make it into the weekend’s top 10 films was the horror tale The Forest, which earned a respectable $13.1 million for its no-caveats opening weekend. The film stars Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, and with a budget of just $10 million it’s likely to turn a tidy profit for its studio.

The other Western everyone’s talking about didn’t fare nearly as well as The Revenant, with Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight taking a surprising hit despite expanding into more theaters. Last week, the film earned more than $15.7 million from screenings in 2,474 theaters, only to earn just over $6.3 million this weekend after adding 464 additional theaters to its run. That’s certainly not a good sign for the film, which has received positive reviews but might be getting pushed off audiences’ collective radar due to all of the buzz surrounding The Revenant right now.

So, now that The Revenant fell short, which upcoming film is most likely to end the reign of The Force Awakens?

Quite a few pundits are predicting that Ice Cube and Kevin Hart’s comedy sequel Ride Along 2 — debuting this upcoming weekend — will knock Star Wars out of the top spot at the box office for at least one week. The original, 2014 film was a massive hit for Universal Pictures and made a big splash with a $41.5 million opening weekend that turned into an impressive $154.4 million worldwide gross. (Not bad for a film made for $25 million.) Box-office prognosticators seem to believe even bigger things are in store for the film’s sequel, which could mean a second-place finish for Star Wars next week.

Still, with The Force Awakens now just $270 million short of crossing the $2 billion mark — a feat achieved by only two other movies in history — the race is far from over for the Star Wars sequel.

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