The Force is with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, according to early tracking.
Directed by J.J. Abrams, the December tentpole is on course to open to at least $175 million to $200 million in its domestic debut over the Dec. 20-22 weekend, on par with early forecasts for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In December 2015, The Force Awakens — also directed by Abrams — revived the franchise with a then-record domestic debut of $248 million. The Last Jedi debuted to $220 million in December 2017.
Lucasfilm and Disney are trying to manage expectations for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, considering the volatile state of the box office. And Skywalker also faces competition from Jumanji: The Next Level, which hits theaters a week earlier and is showing sizable strength on tracking.
The Rise of Skywalker is the ninth and final installment in the George Lucas-created series that first hit the big screen in 1977.
Skywalker‘s ensemble cast is led by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong’o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams and the late Carrie Fisher.
Also slated to open nationwide Dec. 20 are Universal’s musical Cats, the big-screen adaptation of the iconic stage musical, and Lionsgate’s Fox News drama Bombshell.
Cats, directed by Tom Hooper (Les Misérables), is tracking to debut to $14 million to $16 million. The pic is banking on a strong multiple throughout the year-end holidays and into January. Two years ago, The Greatest Showman debuted to a muted $8.8 million in December on its way to grossing $174.3 million domestically. The cast of Cats includes James Corden, Dame Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson, in addition to introducing Francesca Hayward.
Directed by Jay Roach, Bombshell is looking at a nationwide debut in the $8 million range (it opens in New York and Los Angeles the previous weekend). The film, starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie, centers on the sexual harassment scandal at the hands of Fox News founder Roger Ailes.
Nov. 27, 11:30 a.m. Updated with tracking for Cats and Bombshell.