LOS ANGELES — Sorry, Batman. So close, yet so far away, Star-Lord. Better luck next time, Captain Jack Sparrow.
Rather, the three most popular movies at theaters in the United States and Canada in 2017 — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Wonder Woman” — were each driven by female characters, something that has not happened in at least 37 years, as far back as full box-office data is available. The top comedy of the year, “Girls Trip,” was also anchored by women, as was the top film to play in limited release, “Lady Bird.”
“Women truly emerged as the giants of cinema this year,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior comScore analyst, adding Oscar contenders like “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” and “I, Tonya” to the list.
Between Friday and Sunday, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Studios) collected an estimated $52.4 million to become the No. 1 movie of 2017 in North America, with a three-week total of $517 million. Overseas, “The Last Jedi” has taken in an additional $523.3 million and has yet to arrive in China, the world’s second-largest movie market.
Disney also had the No. 2 movie of the year. The live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” with Emma Watson as the warbling Belle, collected $504 million at domestic theaters. Directed by Bill Condon, “Beauty and the Beast” took in $759.5 million overseas.
Third place went to that breaker of comic-book movie glass ceilings, “Wonder Woman,” which lassoed $412.6 million in domestic ticket sales ($409.3 million overseas) for Warner Bros., minting two new A-list stars in the process — actress Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins.
Overall, the year was a mixed one for studios and theater owners. Domestic ticket sales totaled about $11.12 billion, a 2.3 percent decline from last year and on par with results for 2015.