Though “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” may have one of the worst Rotten Tomatoes scores in the franchise (57%), and CinemaScore, which surveys opening weekend moviegoers, gave the movie a B+ score (the first time ever a “Star Wars” movie didn’t score an A), the movie is still dominating the box office.
“The Rise of Skywalker” brought in an estimated $176 million over the weekend at the domestic box office, which is the third-best opening of the year, behind fellow Disney titles “The Lion King” ($191.7 million) and “Avengers: Endgame” ($357.1 million).
Any studio would love to have a movie bring in the coin “Rise of Skywalker” did this weekend, but things are a little different when you look at a Disney release, especially from the “Star Wars” franchise.
Lucasfilm clearly felt the best way to close things out with the Skywalkers was to have a movie that basically answered every question the fans have been asking since 2015’s “Force Awakens.” They even brought back that movie’s director, J. J. Abrams, for the final chapter. But the reaction seems to have fans torn. They certainly are going to see the movie, but some are leaving dissatisfied.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has already addressed the sobering realization that “Star Wars” fans are getting burnt out. Since “The Force Awakens” opened there has been a “Star Wars” movie released every year (“Rogue One” in 2016, “The Last Jedi” in 2017, “Solo” in 2018, and “Rise of Skywalker” in 2019), both Disneyland and Disney World opened “Star Wars” amusement parks, and when Disney Plus launched, its standout original show was a “Star Wars” property, “The Mandalorian.”
On top of that, the drama behind the scenes has been well publicized. There were the drastic reshoots for “Rogue One” that had director Gareth Edwards have to hand over the movie to another filmmaker, Tony Gilroy. The original directors for “Solo,” Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired. The original director of “The Rise of Skywalker,” Colin Trevorrow, left the project over creative differences (opening the door for Abrams’ return). And most recently, the showrunners of “Game of Thrones,” David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, walked away from creating a new trilogy for the franchise reportedly over the toxic fanbase. Oh, and don’t bother asking “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson about the status of his previously planned trilogy.
This has all led to “Star Wars” disfunction, which “Rise of Skywalker” had to walk right into.
The movie had the fifth best Thursday preview screenings take ever with $40 million, and then had a $90 million opening day, sixth best of all time. But it did all this on 4,406 screens, more than “The Last Jedi” (4,232) or “The Force Awakens” (4,134).
Globally, the movie has a $373.5 million take with $198 million coming from the international box office.
Both “Solo” and “The Last Jedi” had a second weekend dip in box office of over 65% at the domestic box office. But the results were very different as 2017’s “Last Jedi” went on to earn $620.1 million domestically (over $1 billion worldwide) and a year later “Solo” finished with $213.7 million domestic ($392.9 million worldwide). The box office result of “Rise of Skywalker” might be an indication of how long the hiatus will be until we see another “Star Wars” in theaters.
Box office highlights:
The big screen adaptation of the Broadway hit “Cats,” from Universal/Amblin/Working Title, had a disastrous opening with the movie taking in just $6.5 million domestically on 3,380 screens. It’s below the industry projection of $15 million. The global total is $10.9 million.
Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” brought in $26.1 million, giving the movie a domestic total of $101.9 million in its second weekend in theaters (it has a worldwide total of $312 million). This will be the fiercest competition for “Rise of Skywalker” at the box office through the new year.