Box Office: A 'Star Wars' First; 'Last Jedi' Stumbles
Two years ago, the long-awaited seventh episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Force Awakens,” debuted during the weekend of Dec. 18-20, grossed $247 mil, and then, in its second weekend, Dec. 25-27, it fell off by only 39.8% to gross another $149.2. How good was that second weekend? At the time, better than all but 11 opening weekends in movie history.
This year, the eighth episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Last Jedi,” debuted the weekend of Dec. 15-17 and grossed $220 million—a drop-off, sure, but still the second-best opening ever. This weekend? Its second? It plummeted to $68 mil, a 68.9% drop, which is akin to the second-weekend drops of such crapfests as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (69%) and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (69.1%).
Not a very “Star Wars” thing to do. The question is why.
- Saturation? We had “Force Awakens” two years ago and “Rogue One” last year and now “Star Wars” is a regular holiday deal, rather than the thing you've been waiting decades to see.
- Backlash? The reviews were good (RT: 92%) but some of the aggragated audience reactions have not been (RT: 52%). It's still up in the air whether this is legit or some kind of sabotage. Some fanboys, apparently, aren't happy that the female characters are front-and-center in this one.
- Or is it just the dates?
Look at the dates for the second weekend of “Force Awakens”: Christmas day and the two days after. Prime movie-watching days. “Last Jedi”? The three days before Christmas day, when most of us are still running around and doing the dirty work of the holiday. That three-day shift could've made a huge difference. I'm not saying “Jedi” would've come near “Force”; I just don't think it would've fallen off in “BvS” numbers. We'll see how it does the rest of the week. I assume it'll pick up. Either way, it's at $365 million ($745 worldwide), and will become the biggest box-office hit of the year—as is true for every major “Star Wars” release save “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” back in 2002.
Five other movies opened this weekend in 2500+ theaters, and finished 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9. The Rock's latest, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” grossed $34, “Pitch Perfect 3” $20 (a third of “PP2”'s opening), and “The Greatest Showman” far back at $8.2. “Downsizing” lived up to its name, making only $4.6, but that was still better than “Father Figures” (“Mamma Mia” + gender switch - ABBA), which scrounged up only $3.2, an average of a paltry $1.1k per theater.
The best per-theater average belonged to the movie I wanted to see, but couldn't, because Fox in its infinite wisdom opened “The Post” in only nine theaters. Nine! Apparently it goes wide in January. Instead, P and I saw “Star Wars” on Thursday and “Jumanji” on Saturday. Mixed positives for both.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Treat yourself to “The Big Sick,” currently streaming on Amazon Prime.