'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Box-Office Fatigue? Don't Be So Sure
Don't bet on Star Wars fatigue just yet.
If box-office pundits are right, Disney's and Lucasfilms' Star Wars: The Last Jedi will ultimately boast one of the top worldwide grosses of all time with as much as $1.6 billion in global ticket sales after earning well north of $745.5 million through Christmas Day.
Heat Vision breakdown
Its lifetime run is expected to include $750 million to $800 million in North American ticket sales. That means it could be the second-biggest domestic title of all time behind its predecessor, Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936.7 million). Currently, Avatar ($760.5 million) and Titanic ($659.4) rank No. 2 and No. 3, not accounting for inflation.
Over the four-day Christmas weekend, The Last Jedi placed No. 1 with $100.7 million in North America, a 54 percent decline from its opening weekend haul of $220 million, the second-best launch on record after Force Awakens ($248 million) in December 2016.
For the three-day weekend, Jedi earned an estimated $68.4 million, a 69 percent decline, prompting some to question whether the film is losing momentum. That compares with a mere 40 percent drop for Force Awakens, which grossed $149.2 million in its second outing over the Dec. 25-27 weekend in 2015. (Force Awakens had the advantage of Christmas Eve falling on a Thursday night.)
And last year, stand-alone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fell 59 percent in its second outing, earning $64 million over the Dec. 23-25 weekend. Rogue One had less to fall from after debuting to $155.1 million.
"The Force Awakens was an outlier, the likes of which we may never see again, and to compare any movie, even a Star Wars film, to that performance is unfair given the buildup to that film's monumental release. At a gross of nearly $750 million worldwide and a near even split between the North American and international gross after a little over a week in theaters, The Last Jedi is by any measure a great success, and the passionate debate over pros and cons of the film itself serve only to show the continued passion that fans have for this historic film series," says comScore analyst Paul Dergaragedian.
Box-office observers note that The Last Jedi got dinged in terms of its weekend-over-weekend drop by Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, a day when traffic always slows. Plus, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle posed potent competition in posting a better-than-expected six-day debut of $72 million from 3,765 theaters.
Through Christmas Day, The Last Jedi was trailing Force Awakens by nearly $175 million in North America at the same point in their runs. The big test will be the amount of force The Last Jedi shows between now and New Year's Day, as well as into January. The good news for Disney is that the movie is now playing more female and younger. On its first weekend, 67 percent of ticket buyers were male, while only 35 percent were under the age of 25; on its second weekend, the male percentage lowered to 58 percent, while nearly 50 percent of tickets buyers were under the age of 25, according to comScore's PosTrak service.
Overseas, Last Jedi has launched in virtually every major market, save for China, where it doesn't debut until Jan. 5. The film is banking on besting the $125 million grossed in the Middle Kingdom by Force Awakens.
Should Last Jedi hit $1.6 billion globally, that would mark one of the top five global successes of all time after Avatar ($2.79 billion), Titanic ($2.19 billion), The Force Awakens ($2.07 billion), Jurassic World ($1.67 billion) and Marvels' The Avengers ($1.51 billion).
Dec. 26, 8:30 a.m. Updated with revised grosses.
by Daniel Fienberg