By Erich Schwartzel
Several new arrivals couldn't knock "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" out of orbit at the holiday box office.
The Walt Disney Co. spinoff collected an estimated $96 million in the U.S. and Canada over the four-day weekend, bringing its two-week total to a hit $318 million. International grosses take the movie's world-wide total to $523.8 million.
The strength of "Rogue One" helped the North American box office pass the $11 billion mark for 2016 on Monday, according to comScore, which is projecting the industry to end the year at a record-setting $11.3 billion, a 1.5% increase from 2015.
Of the newarrivals aimed at Christmastime moviegoers, the animated comedy "Sing" performed the best. The latest feature from "Minions" producer Illumination Entertainment collected $56.1 million over the four-day weekend, and had a six-day total of $76.7 million.
Illumination has another potential hit on its hands, coming five months after its last release, "The Secret Life of Pets," collected $368 million in the U.S. and Canada. "Sing" had a budget of about $75 million.
"It's an excellent start," said Nick Carpou, president of domestic distribution at Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures, which distributes Illumination features.
"Passengers," a space drama released by Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures and starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, came in a bit below expectations with a six-day gross of $30.4 million. But the movie saw a surge in attendance from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day of about 164%, said Josh Greenstein, Sony's president of world-wide marketing and distribution. It was an increase he attributed to adults who spent the previous week preparing for the holidays finally having the time to head to the movies.
The "Passengers" opening would normally be low given its net budget of $110 million, but the week between Christmas and New Year's often sees grosses come in like a typical weekend, thanks to vacations from school and work. Movies released over Christmas weekend often perform much stronger in subsequent weeks than summer releases, which can arrive with big numbers before attendance falls.
"We're just getting started," said Mr. Greenstein.
Two new arrivals from Twentieth Century Fox didn't fare as well. "Why Him?", a family-relations comedy starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco, collected a healthy $16.7 million since opening Friday.
The studio's videogame adaptation "Assassin's Creed" disappointed with $22.5 million over the sixdays, a paltry showing for a movie that cost $125 million to produce and arrived with a built-in fan base. Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox, and News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, share common ownership.
"Fences," a film adaptation of the August Wilson play starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis andreleased by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, collected a soft $11.4 million over the four-day weekend. The drama is generating awards buzz for its lead performers, which could help sustain interest, and its debut is aided by the movie's modest budget of about $20 million.
Several other awards contenders hit theaters in limited release, while one of the front-runners for the Academy Award for best picture, "La La Land," expanded to about 730 locations. The musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone has collected $17.6 million so far.
Write to Erich Schwartzel at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 26, 2016 17:00 ET (22:00 GMT)
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