It took the Great War to finally take down "Star Wars."
Director Sam Mendes' World War I story "1917" brought in $36.5 million in its first weekend of wide release, topping the box office and ending the three-week reign of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," according to studio estimates Sunday.
Universal's expansion strategy worked beautifully for "1917" as the film went from just 11 screens in its first two weeks to more than 3,400 on the weekend after it won Golden Globes for best director and best drama film, and just before Monday's Academy Award nominations, where it's likely to get nods in several categories.
"This is the blueprint for how to perfectly execute the platform release for a potential Oscar nominee and Oscar winner," said Paul Dergarabedian, media analyst for Comscore.
While the epic wartime feel of "1917," which was shot and edited to appear as though it were done in a single take, makes it a natural for major awards, its triumphs at the Golden Globes were a surprise.
"I hope this means that people will turn up and see this on the big screen, the way it was intended," Mendes said at the Globes ceremony.
Those hopes weren't unfounded. A good weekend was expected for the film, but it shot past those expectations.
"It's not like the kids were clamoring for a World War I trench drama," Dergarabedian said. "A film like this could have easily slipped off the radar."
"1917" has now earned $39.2 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday:
1. "1917," $36.5 million.
2. "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker," $15.1 million.
3. "Jumanji: The Next Level," $14 million.
4. "Like a Boss," $10 million.
5. "Just Mercy," $10 million.
6. "Little Women," $7.65 million.
7. "Underwater," $7 million.
8. "Frozen 2," $5.76 million.
9. "Knives Out," $5.73 million.
10. "Spies in Disguise," $5.1 million.