It’s good to be anyone connected to La La Land right about now. Awards bodies are falling over themselves to shower the film with trophies (a record-setting 7 at the Golden Globes) and nominations (11 from the BAFTAs). In a couple of days select IMAX theaters around the world will kick out Rogue One to make room for La La, giving audiences a chance to see it again/for the first time on the biggest screen possible. And the soundtrack continues its steady climb up the Billboard charts
But shut up about all of that for a minute. This is an article about La La Land’s box office. Are you aware just how big of a hit La La Land, an honest to God original musical, is in the process of becoming?
Will it make as much as Rogue One?
Well, no, obviously not.
Or Sing? Or Moana? Or Doctor Strange? Or even Trolls?
Okay. Fine. Compared to Hollywood’s bread and butter, La La Land is a non-entity. Disney’s not exactly shaking in its yellow Mickey Mouse shoes. However, as IMAX’x CEO Greg Foster recently told THR, “2016 was about higher highs and lower lows. Only 26 titles in 2016 crossed $100 million domestically, the fewest in a decade.” As such, there isn’t a single $100m-grossing title among this year’s likely Best Picture nominees, although Arrival is awfully close ($94m).
La La Land could change that.
Behold, a fancy line chart comparing La La’s daily box office to four relatively recent Best Picture contenders which had similar release patterns, each of them playing in limited release for at least two weeks before expanding wide over Christmas:
If you can’t tell from the chart, at day 31 La La sits at $51m domestic. Here’s how that compares to the 31-day totals for the other films:
- The Big Short-$42m
- The Descendants-$26m
- Silver Linings Playbook-$16m
- The Imitation Game-$14m
And here’s how things turned out for all of those films:
Yep. La La Land is pacing ahead of every single one of them, and now it will receive at least a week-long boost from inflated IMAX ticket sales. So, in the long run it’s totally going to make at least as much as Silver Linings Playbook, and stand as the highest-grossing Best Picture contender of the year?
Not necessarily. The release patterns between the four films I picked as comparisons are similar to La La’s but not identical. Silver Linings, for example, actually had several more weeks than La La to organically build up its word of mouth before expanding wide over Christmas. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence was still red hot off of Hunger Games, and there was less of a chance of a backlash since unlike La La Silver Linings was nominated for Golden Globes and other awards but didn’t exactly sweep everywhere it went, more typically losing in most categories other than Best Actress for Lawrence.
Also, more films, particularly awards-contending films, than seemingly ever before were jam-packed into late-December this awards season. La La Land emerged the victor of the first wave, but now the second wave comes with nationwide expansions of Hidden Figures, Patriot’s Day, Live By Night, Silence, The Founder and 20th Century Women along with wide releases of various actions movies, teen dramas and micro-budget horror flicks. The competition will be fierce. It’s already claimed poor, under seen A Monster Calls.
Point being: Just because La La Land is pacing ahead of similar films doesn’t mean that trend will absolutely, definitely 100% hold up. But, wow, it might. Either way, a domestic gross between $70m-$137m is guaranteed at this point. Damien Chazelle tried to get this movie made for 6 years. Lionsgate was finally the studio to take a chance on him and his crazy, non-commercial sounding idea. An original musical? In this day and age? Who will actually go see something like that? Turns out, lots of people.