The initial returns on Disney’s fifth Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker, were “disappointing” (in heavy air quotes) as pundits saw the final film in the Skywalker saga as underperforming with a slow opening weekend of only $175 million. It is hard to imagine that a movie making that much money could be considered a letdown, but many projections had it crossing $200 million in its opening weekend.
Enter the holiday corridor to the rescue. This entire week each year is considered one long weekend by the industry, and Skywalker, along with a plethora of other movies, is killing it. The movie pulled in $32 million on Christmas day and $30.38 million on Dec. 26, placing second in the Christmas day record books behind The Force Awakens ($49.3 million) and supplanting The Last Jedi ($27.5 million). The movie easily cruised across $500 million worldwide as well. It now stands with $289.59 million domestically with a grand total of $572 million and will demolish the $1 billion mark quickly with little competition over the next few weeks as we enter the dreaded month of January and studios release nothing but delayed Oscar bait and duds they want everyone to forget.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s long-term success relies on how much of a dropoff the movie will have as it rolls into its second week. The Last Jedi tore through its first week with massive numbers but saw a rapid drop off from there. Will audiences continue to return to The Rise of Skywalker as they did with The Force Awakens, or will it slow down now that everyone has seen it during the week?
Whatever happens, it is clear that Star Wars movies make a ton of money, but none of the Disney-made sequels or spin-offs have been able to eclipse the thunderous box office that The Force Awakens pulled in when it eventually delivered $2,068,223,624 worldwide. Neither The Last Jedi nor The Rise of Skywalker lived up to its box office projections, and both films have courted plenty of controversy among critics and fans of the series. The only thing Disney has done with the franchise that seems to be a resounding success is The Mandalorian, and this has led the studio to pause on Star Wars film production for a few years as they regroup on their approach. Maybe, however, The Force Awakens just came along at the right time and hit the right notes, and Disney and the industry need to adjust their expectations for what a Star Wars film can make.