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‘Skywalker’ stays on top at box office; ‘Little Women’ has big debut

LOS ANGELES — “Star Wars” was still rising in the last weekend of the year, while “Little Women” broke big at the box office.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” brought in $72 million over the weekend to remain the top-earning film in North America by light-years, according to studio estimates Sunday.

In 10 days of release it has brought in $362.8 million for Disney, falling just short of the earnings of its predecessor, 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in a comparable span.

Helped by the Christmas holiday week, “Star Wars” had a smaller-than-average 59% drop-off in its second weekend after earning $175 million in its first.

“For a movie that opened that big, that is a modest drop,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Movies that open this time of year, they usually have legs.”

Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level,” earned $35.3 million for second place and has tallied a total of $175.5 million through its third weekend of release.

Director Greta Gerwig’s re-imagining of the American literary classic “Little Women” had a $16.5-million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two films.

The film, also a Sony release, starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Laura Dern, scored big with both audiences and critics and is gaining momentum as an awards-season favorite.

“With Greta Gerwig’s reputation as a filmmaker, a great cast and a perfect holiday release date, they’ve got quite a hit on the their hands,” Dergarabedian said.

“Uncut Gems,” an even smaller film that has also sparked awards-season buzz for Adam Sandler’s rare dramatic performance as a jeweler and gambling addict, entered the top 10 for the first time as it expanded to more screens in its first week. The film earned $9.6 million over the weekend and has brought in $20 million overall.

Director Sam Mendes’ experimental World War I epic “1917,” earned more than $1 million since its Christmas opening despite showing in only 11 theaters. The huge per-screen average bodes well for the film’s nationwide opening next month as it ramps up its Oscars campaign.

As 2019 ends, annual overall box office revenue is down by 4%, though it gained ground in its latter months, narrowing a deficit that was 11% in April, and 2018 was always going to be tough to beat.

“Last year was an outlier,” Dergarabedian said. “It was just a massive year.”

Between Marvel and “Star Wars,” and its animation divisions, 2019 was utterly owned by Disney, which had all five of the year’s top grossing movies: “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4,” “Captain Marvel” and “Frozen 2.”

And with “The Rise of Skywalker” ending the year at No. 7 and “Aladdin” at No. 8, the mega-mouse ate up seven of the top 10 spots.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

1. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” $72 million, ($94.3 million international).

2. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $35.3 million ($61.6 million international).

3. “Little Women,” $16.5 million, ($6.3 million international).

4. “Frozen 2,” $16.5 million, ($42.2 million international).

5. “Spies in Disguise,” $13.2 million, ($16 million international).

6. “Knives Out,” $9.7 million ($6 million international).

7. “Uncut Gems,” $9.6 million.

8. “Cats,” $4.83 million, ($13.6 million international).

9. “Bombshell,” $4.7 million, ($157,000 international).

10. “Richard Jewell,” $3 million.

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