This is the movie to end it all. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened strong at the box office this weekend, although it failed to meet some of the early predictions for worldwide box office due to a soft performance in China, where it was beaten by a local film.
Final box office numbers aren’t in, but it is estimated that Rise earned a respectable $177 million at the domestic box office. This is a bit lower than original predictions, but still slides in to the third best December opening ever (behind episodes 7 & 8 in the saga).
Industry insiders lay some of the blame for the weaker than expected opening at the feet of the late opening date. By opening on the 20th, and the last big shopping weekend before Christmas, audiences may have had other things on their mind than checking into a movie theater for 3 hours. I would not be surprised to see a strong second weekend starting on Thursday after families return home from their Christmas travel.
Overseas Star Wars is clocking in at $198 million for a $375M-ish global total. Forecasts on Wednesday called for $400-$450M. Still, it’s very likely Rise will reach the coveted $1 billion mark before it heads to home video and the inevitable debut on Disney+.
While critics gave mixed reviews, audiences tended to like Rise. But it is still tracking under Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Of the nine films, Rise ranks fourth best with audiences with a B+.
What’s true is that it’s not an easy task to wrap up nine films of a saga and please all of the fans all of the time. Disney should just be happy they weren’t the studio that tried to rush the ‘Cats’ musical out before it was finished. Now that was a disaster.