“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” lived up to its very high expectations with a domestic weekend gross of $220 million. Foreign territories (with China not yet opened) added another $450 million to the total so far — a strong number, to state the obvious, at anytime, even more so for the pre-Christmas date.
This is a decided improvement over last year’s franchise sidebar “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” which opened to $157 million, and only 15 percent below what “The Force Awakens” did two years ago. The return of the series opened to almost unprecedented interest and demand.
This number is a terrific performance for a franchise now providing annual entries, with normal attrition usually meaning to lower grosses. “The Empire Strikes Back,” the second of the “Star Wars” series, opened in an era when initial grosses aren’t really comparable. But the film ultimately grossed about three-quarters of the first. That makes the higher relative start here even more impressive.
Also of note was the furious noise on Friday from social media and movie site ratings that suggested hardcore fans might have some issues with the film. The sustained grosses, with Saturday and Sunday performances better than initially expected and an “A” Cinemascore (the same as the last two films), suggests naysayers don’t speak for most of the audience. Whether it affects repeat viewing and longer-term play remain to be seen, but it’s an amazing start.
Of note: Since the best way to compare grosses is adjusting to current ticket prices, the opening ranks as #4, not second as Disney and most others claim using numbers as though they all mean the same thing. “The Avengers” ($228 million adjusted) and “Jurassic World” ($226 million adjusted) all barely edged out “Jedi.” And that came with prime May and June dates, which gave them both an extra edge.
Ultimately, whether “Jedi” is second or fourth matters little: It is an incredible gross. And unlike those other films, it comes in a year that has otherwise been down. “The Last Jedi” suffers from that malaise not at all.
In a week when the game-changing Disney and 20th Century Fox deal was announced, the two companies combined totaled about $250 million of the $275 million reported gross. That’s a coincidence that would rarely occur, but it does indicate the potential combined strength of the two companies — and a reason for others to have concern. Expect those who might challenge the sale to cite this as an argument against it.
“Ferdinand” from Fox Animation took the second spot. $13,325,000 is enough to be viable going into the kids and family-rich Christmas period ahead. It is slightly below what their “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” did two years ago versus “The Force Awakens.” That film went on to $84 million domestic, $150 million more worldwide.
With a reported cost of over $100 million, Fox will likely need (as they usually get) disproportionately better results overseas. It could get them; it is Spanish-set, and Fox, like Universal, has shown in their animated franchises the ability to score strong worldwide. An initial good sign was its particularly good, even for animation, 52 percent improvement Saturday over Friday.
Among the studio-wide releases, the two expected to continue on at least 2,000 screens came through well enough. “Coco” took a hit from “Ferdinand,” dropping 46 percent. That’s still credible. Last year saw no new animated film to compete with “Moana,” which dropped 31 percent. It took in over $2 million more than “Coco” this year, with the same opening date. But it is a much better hold than the fourth weekend of “The Good Dinosaur” in 2015, which fell 58 percent. It should remain a high-grossing film for the next few weeks.
Coming through very well is “Wonder” (Lionsgate). Now at $109 million, it dropped only 36 percent for fourth spot. With Lionsgate opening no new film, its current gross and its certain appeal for families over the holidays, they look positioned to add substantially to its total.
“Justice League” dropped 57 percent, and though Warners would like its latest D.C. Comics release to hold on, both its trajectory and their opening of the comedy “Father Figures” this Friday stand in the way. “Daddy’s Home 2” still has some strength, but Paramount also has Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing” to release wide this weak. The rest of the Top 10 will either struggle to survive, fight for justified holds — or, retreat to fight again when the Oscar nominations are announced next month.
1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Disney) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic:86 ; Est. budget: $200 million+
$220,047,000 in 4,232 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $51,996; Cumulative: $220,047,000
2. Ferdinand (20th Century Fox) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 58; Est. budget: $110 million
$13,325,000 in 3,621 theaters; PTA: $3,680; Cumulative: $13,325,000
3. Coco (Disney) Week; Last weekend #1
$10,025,000 (-46%) in 3,155 theaters (-593); PTA: $3,177; Cumulative: $150,811,000
4. Wonder (Lionsgate) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$5,400,000 (-36%) in 3,047 theaters (-472); PTA: $1,772; Cumulative: $109,257,000
5. Justice League (Warner Bros.) Week 5; Last weekend #2
$4,170,000 (-57%) in 2,702 theaters (-806); PTA: $1,543; Cumulative: $219,456,000
6. Daddy’s Home 2 (Paramount) Week 6; Last weekend #
$3,800,000 (-36%) in 2,493 theaters (-770); PTA: $; Cumulative: $
7. Thor: Ragnarok (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #5
$2,981,000 (-52%) in 1,895 theaters (-1,152); PTA: $1,524; Cumulative: $306,375,000
8. The Disaster Artist (A24) Week 3; Last weekend #4
$2,637,000 (-59%) in 1,010 theaters (+170); PTA: $2,611; Cumulative: $12,932,000
9. Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) Week 6; Last weekend #7
$2,470,000 (-%) in 1,923 theaters (-1,116); PTA: $1,284; Cumulative: $97,253,000
10. Lady Bird (A24) Week 7; Last weekend #9
$2,108,000 (-39%) in 947 theaters (-610); PTA: $2,226; Cumulative: $25,978,000