One thing that was clear when we examined the box office performance of The Last Jedi is that it left money on the table. A lot of money. Its box office take was nearly $700m behind The Force Awakens and well behind Disney expectations and financial plans. This was due, in part, to limited rewatching. The same people who went to see The Force Awakens three or four times in theatres simply stayed at home having seen The Last Jedi once.
It then performed without fanfare on the home entertainment market and eventually quietly slipped onto Netflix in double-quick time. We all know what happened next with Solo: A Star Wars Story.
No matter how many other websites and commentators try to spin things, The Last Jedi performance disappointed the suits and put Disney’s entire Star Wars strategy to the sword. The racks and racks of totally unsold merchandise do not lie. The tumbleweed blowing through Star Wars theme parks tell the story.
The overt middle finger, raised several times by The Rise Of Skywalker, through dialogue and scene choices tell you all you need to know about what Disney has come to realise about The Last Jedi. The breakneck speed that the movie travels at in an effort to distance itself and its plot from its predecessor is an issue. Seemingly starting halfway through another adventure and feeling, at times, like there was a secret other movie you have missed in the franchise is The Rise Of Skywalker running at full speed to try and get away from The Last Jedi and it’s somewhat stinky legacy.
So as a result commentators and analysts are watching the box office of The Rise Of Skywalker like hawks. What are they seeing? The picture is decidedly mixed.
Friday’s numbers at the U.S. box-office looked good for The Rise of Skywalker. Disney had their own projections at $160m. It had a strong start with a $193m – $195m estimate floating about.
As soon as it looked like it was flying, it crashed. Saturdays numbers came in and they showed clearly that hardcore fans, geeks and those determined not to be spoilt had piled in early and Saturday had dropped BIG TIME! 47% down on the previous day. Sunday figures showed a further 15% drop off on that.
If that line continues then it’s not good news. Projections were back at $175m for the opening weekend and it makes it the third biggest opener of the year. Third is not what is expected for Star Wars. Eventually is squeaked past that at $177m globally for the weekend as the dailies came in and the box office book was closed on the weekend.
The revision downwards is potentially, again, due to lack of rewatch with hardcore geeks not piling back a 2nd or 3rd time in the same weekend. Casual viewers were similarly non-plussed as overall the movie earns an official CinemaScore of B+ – the lowest CinemaScore for any live-action film in the entire franchise.
This box-office news comes as one of the writers has talked about the decisions made in this movie.
MAJOR SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON
There is one thing the bearded, open mouthed soy-fraternity and greasy manlet defenders of The Last Jedi can never answer in their cult-like devotion. Why, if that movie is the beloved success they claim while frothing at the mouth, does The Rise Of Skywalker go to such great lengths to practically retcon The Last Jedi out of all existence? Why is it so openly disdainful of the choices of its predecessor in other parts?
They can’t answer this, and after you have been banned from their website for daring to question them you will still have no answer.
The biggest retcon this movie pulls is with Rey’s lineage. The Last Jedi went to great lengths to say she was a nobody. This cannot be excused as a simple Kylo Ren lie as The Last Jedi also touched on the democratisation of force powers including a final shot of “broom boy” showing basic ability.
The Rise Of Skywalker completely throws Rian Johnson’s approach in the trash and explains her fast mastery of the force and heightened abilities while making it clear that any remaining force ability in the galaxy is the preserve of certain family lineages.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio explain why they walked back this aspect of The Last Jedi:
“One of the themes of the movie is anyone can be anything regardless of where you’re from. I don’t know if it resonates with everyone, but I think a lot of people appreciate the idea of not coming from a place you’re particularly proud of.
Though I completely understand you’re nobody is a devastating thing, to me the more painful, the more shocking thing is the idea that you’re from the worst possible place. The idea that the choices, that there are things more powerful than blood, is more powerful to convey.”
How did Palpatine find time for a family? How was he even resurrected after being thrown down a reactor shaft? Terrio says:
“The Skywalker-Palpatine family dynasty tragedy, like any great tragedy between two great houses, was deep in the DNA of Star Wars. So we knew that Palpatine had to be a presence in the film in some way.
As it turns out there was this gift that George Lucas wrote, it was sitting there, because there was a scene in one of the prequels in which Palpatine says to Anakin Skywalker, ‘The Dark side of the Force awakens many abilities considered to be unnatural’. And it was hanging there as this tease of unnatural abilities that the Sith had. so J.J. and I thought it would be crazy not to pick up that thread.”
The Last Jedi can be found stinking out Disney+ or in the DVD bin at gas stations nationwide. The Rise Of Skywalker is in theatres now and according to the results there, is probably plenty of space.