There is a disturbance in the Force. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened in cinemas this weekend with a $US 175.5 million North American gross and a $US 198 million gross outside of North America for a global cume of $US 373.5 million. While that is no small number (especially since it has already recovered its reported $US 250 million – 300 million production budget), it’s still the lowest opening weekend of the sequel trilogy. In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed a staggering $US 528.9 million opening weekend, the highest opening weekend of all-time, at the time. In 2017, Rian Johnson’s polarizing The Last Jedi raked in $US 450.8 million worldwide.
The final episode of the Skywalker Saga has received incredibly mixed reviews. The film currently has a 57% rotten score (with an average rating of 6.23/10) on the popular aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes. The audiences generally seem to like it though, as the film has a 86% audience score on RT, a huge leap from The Last Jedi‘s 91%. However, when we look at Cinemascore (a site that measures the audience’s appeal of a movie by polling movie audiences in the US on opening night), The Rise of Skywalker (B+) has not only the lowest score of this sequel trilogy — The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, scored As respectively — but of the entire Star Wars saga.
But audience scores, just like critic scores are frankly rather unreliable when it comes to predicting a film’s box office, which is fuelled primarily by the casual audiences. On Cinemascore, Joker received a B+ and grossed $US 1 billion while Crimes of Grindelwald which received the same score, only grossed $US 659 million. The same can be said about the Rotten Tomatoes audience score. Alita: Battle Angel has a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It grossed a highly disappointing $US 404.8 million at the global box office.
I’ll do an in-depth breakdown of Star Wars box office numbers through the ages once the film reaches the end of its line. However, for now, here’s what we can take away from its $US 373.5 million opening weekend.
- Star Wars is nowhere near being dead. $US 373.5 million is still a massive amount. In fact, it’s in the top 20 worldwide opening weekends of all time. It’s just perhaps not as popular among the general movie-going audience as it once was. The Star Wars of today is the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Fan divide may not have ruined Star Wars but it certainly didn’t help.
- When the casual/younger movie-going audiences watched The Force Awakens in cinemas in 2015, many were lost and confused, wondering if they needed to watch all the previous movies before watching it, emotionally disengaged from moments like “Chewie we’re home.” A lot of these fans did not return to watch The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
- It’ll be interesting to see the box office numbers of the next trilogy, which is supposedly completely unrelated to the Skywalker Saga.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently playing in cinemas.