The Last Jedi isn’t going to set off the same spectacular, world record-shattering box office fireworks that we saw with The Force Awakens. It will fall well short.
Just breathe. This is not a Justice League-level panic situation.
Early box-office tracking for the Dec. 15 release started circulating around Hollywood on Tuesday, and the number is, predictably, pretty astounding. Some reports have it as high as $200 million domestic, though word has it that the tracking agencies responsible for these numbers aren’t quite in that rarified air.
What’s more: Movies of this size are almost impossible to foretell, and they do it so marketing teams can adjust, not to give a definitive prediction.
No one’s being more conservative with expectations than Disney, who’d be thrilled to ring the $200 million bell for a third time. But even $200 million would be a steep drop from the all-time opening weekend record $248 million that The Force Awakens hauled in a couple of years ago, on its way to $2.06 billion worldwide. (It’s also significantly better than the $155 million posted by Rogue One).
So what’s behind the Skywalker saga slide? Gone, the novelty factor is.
The Last Jedi will be the third Star Wars film inside a two-year span, whereas The Force Awakens was the first in a decade. Casual fans will be happy to catch it in the second or third week of release; mom and dad will wait for the crowds to die down; grandma and grandpa will wait for it to come to the discount theater down the lane.
And Disney’s draconian demands for movie theaters who want the privilege of running The Last Jedi probably isn’t hurting, but it can’t be helping, either. According to the Wall Street Journal, theaters are expected to cough up 65% of gross receipts, as opposed to the traditional 50/50 split (which sometimes flexes up to 60% for big tentpoles), and that goes up to 70% if they run afoul of Disney’s copious rider rules. Though the big chains can only comply, some of the little guys may just opt for counterprogramming this Christmas.
In any case, there’s no cause for panic if The Last Jedi falls well short of The Force Awakens. Fans who are emotionally invested in the box-office performance of their favorite movie franchises can take comfort in the fact that The Avengers set an all-time opening weekend record of $207 million (the first to cross the $200 million mark), a number that fell to $191.3 million with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Marvel seems to have survived this catastrophe.
Not sure we can say the same for the DC Extended Universe.