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New Star Wars film kicks off 2020 at top of US box office

The box office in 2020 started off where last year left off: with “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" still on top.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker is the newest film in the saga Source: Supplied

After a historic year, the Walt Disney Co. opened the new year approaching one milestone and surpassing another.

With US$33.7 million over its third weekend in US and Canada theatres according to studio estimates today, “Rise of Skywalker” ($918.8 million) is closing in on US$1 billion worldwide.

While it appears unlikely to match the hauls of the trilogy's previous entries, “Rise of Skywalker” will mark a record seventh US$1 billion 2019 release for Disney.

One of those other six blockbusters, “Frozen 2,” today reached $1.33 billion, making it the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman in worldwide ticket sales.

Jennifer Lee, who co-directed both “Frozen” films with Chris Buck and who now runs Disney Animation, surpasses her own record from the first “Frozen” (US$1.28 billion).

"Frozen 2" also charts as the highest grossing animated film, so long as you don't count last year's "Lion King" (US$1.66 billion). Disney considers that remake live-action even though it was largely computer generated.

Holiday holdovers stayed strong, led by a pair of Sony Pictures releases.

“Jumanji: The Next Level” added US$26.5 million in its fourth week, bringing its domestic total to $236 million and its global gross past US$600 million.

Greta Gerwig's “Little Women,” meanwhile, is becoming an outright hit. The Louisa May Alcott adaptation has been the top adult-oriented choice through the busy holiday season.

With US$13.6 million in its second weekend and strong business overseas, “Little Women" has grossed US$80 million worldwide in two weeks. It was made for a modest $40 million.

The week's only new release also came from Sony. “The Grudge,” a horror reboot of the 2004 remake produced by Sam Raimi, opened with US$11.3 million.

That was a fair total for a movie that cost $10 million to make and received some withering reaction from critics and audiences. “The Grudge” scored just 18 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and engendered a rarely seen F CinemaScore from moviegoers.

Ahead of the evening's Golden Globes, a handful of contenders added momentum.

Rian Johnson's “Knives Out” held better than any other film in the top 10, dropping just nine per cent and grossing $9 million in its sixth weekend. Its global tally stands at $247.5 million.

Sam Mendes' war film “1917” is poised for its national expansion next week after a second weekend of packed theatres in limited release. It took in $590,000 at 11 theatres, good for an impressive per-theatre average of $53,100.

And though it was overlooked by the Globes, the Safdie brothers' “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler, is becoming one of A24's biggest box-office successes. It grossed $7.8 million in its fourth and widest weekend of release, bringing its domestic overall total to $36.8 million.

After a box office year that was down four per cent from 2018, Hollywood began 2020 on the upswing. Ticket sales were up 7.2 per cent from the same weekend last year, according to data firm Comscore.

Estimated ticket sales for Saturday through today at US and Canadian theatres, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Saturay through today are also included. (All figures below are in US dollars)

1. “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” $33.7 million ($50.5 million international).

2. “Jumanji: The Next Level," $26.5 million ($42.4 million international).

3. “Little Women,” $13.6 million ($9.5 million international).

4. “The Grudge,” $11.3 million ($5.8 million international).

5. “Frozen 2,” $11.3 million ($42.4 million international).

6. “Spies in Disguise,” $10.1 million ($15.8 million international).

7. “Knives Out,” $9 million ($8.8 million international).

8. “Uncut Gems,” $7.8 million.

9. “Bombshell,” $4.1 million.

10. “Cats,” $2.6 million ($4.3 million international).