The Force dominated at the box office as Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened with a stellar $220 million weekend at 4,232 North American sites — the second-highest opening weekend of all time.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” trails only the $248 million launch of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
The tentpole opened with $104.8 million on Friday (including $45 million from Thursday night previews) for the second-best opening day of all time, followed by $64 million on Saturday and a projected $51.3 million on Sunday. With international grosses hitting $230 million, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” totaled $450 million worldwide.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has become only the fourth movie to top $200 million domestically in its opening frame, joining 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” 2015’s “Jurassic World” with $208.8 million, and 2012’s “The Avengers” with $207.4 million. It will finish the weekend 29% above the “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One,” which opened with $155.1 million on the same weekend a year ago.
“Truly in a class by themselves, the movies of the “Star Wars” franchise continue to re-write the history books as to what is possible in terms of box office performance,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.
“‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ posts the second biggest preview gross, the second best single day gross ever recorded and if that were not enough, the second biggest opening weekend ever in North America, joining the elusive $200 million club with a knockout of a movie that is proving to be both catnip to the critics and moviegoers alike over what has become the strongest moviegoing weekend of 2017,” he added.
Audiences surveyed by comScore’s PostTrak gave stellar marks to the tentpole with 66% calling it “excellent” and another 23% rating it “very good.” A total of 79% said they would “definitely recommend” the movie.
The stellar performance comes three days after Disney announced it was spending $52.4 billion to acquire 21st Century Fox assets — a move that will make the company the undisputed leader in box office share in coming
Domestic tracking for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has remained in the $200 million range since Nov. 22, when first estimates emerged. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” wound up its domestic run with a record-setting $936.7 million and $2.07 billion worldwide. “Rogue One” went on to gross $532.2 million by the end of its domestic run and $1.03 billion worldwide.
Directed by Rian Johnson, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” picks up where “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” left off. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis. New stars include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro.
The weekend was the third-largest of all time in overall domestic moviegoing with $280 million, according to comScore, trailing only the first two weekends of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Those weekends generated $313 million and $296 million in box office gross.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” also helped close the gap in 2017’s lag over last year’s total by a full percentage point. As of Sunday, this year’s total is $10.29 billion, off 2.9%.
Disney noted that it crossed the $2 billion domestic mark on Saturday, marking the third consecutive year that is has done so and making Disney the first studio to have achieved that record. It’s currently in first place in 2017 market share.
In three days, the domestic total for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has topped the entire 31-day domestic run of Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s of “Justice League.”
Fox’s counter-programming foray with animated family comedy “Ferdinand” finished a distant second with $13.3 million at 3,621 locations in North America amid expectations of a $15 million debut. The movie is based on the children’s book “The Story of Ferdinand” and directed by Carlos Saldanha, with John Cena voicing the Spanish bull who doesn’t want to fight. Fox pointed to a 54% jump in Saturday grosses as an indication that the film should play well during the holiday season with most schoolchildren on vacation.
Disney-Pixar’s fourth weekend of “Coco” led the rest of the pack with $10 million at 3,155 locations in its fourth frame, enough to lift the animated musical to past $150 million domestically. The film, which had led the US box office for three weekends, declined 46%.
Lionsgate’s fifth weekend of its drama “Wonder” finished fourth with $5.4 million at 3,047 sites, putting the surprise hit at $109 million domestically. “Wonder,” starring Jacob Tremblay, has a modest $20 million budget.
Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment’s fifth weekend of “Justice League” followed in fifth place with $4.2 million at 2,702 sites. The superhero tentpole is by far the poorest domestic performer among the five titles in the DC Extended Universe with $219.5 million domestically in its first 31 days. By contrast, the studio’s “Wonder Woman” grossed $346 million in its first 31 days this summer.
Paramount’s sixth frame of “Daddy’s Home 2” took sixth place with $3.8 million at 2,493 venues, pushing its 38-day total past $96 million. Disney-Marvel’s seventh weekend of “Thor: Ragnarok” followed with $3 million at 1,895 sites for a North American total of $306 million — the sixth-highest of 2017.
A24’s third weekend of James Franco’s comedy-drama “The Disaster Artist” came in eighth place with $2.6 million at 1,010 locations as the awards contender saw a 59% decline. “The Disaster Artist” has totaled $12.9 million in 17 days.
Fox’s seventh frame of “Murder on the Orient Express” finished ninth with $2.5 million at 1,923 venues, which pushed the detective drama past $97 million domestically.
A24’s “Lady Bird” continued to perform well in its seventh weekend with $2.1 million at 947 sites, good enough for 10th place for a domestic total of $26 million. The comedy-drama scored Globes nominations for best comedy or musical and for Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf and Greta Gerwig’s screenplay, in addition to three SAG nominations for ensemble cast, Ronan and Metcalf.
With the holiday season getting into full swing, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” should dominate moviegoing before a pair of new entries arrive on Dec. 20 in wide release — Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and Fox’s “The Greatest Showman.” A trio of comedies will open two days later with Warner Bros.’ “Father Figures,” Paramount’s “Downsizing” and Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 3” all going into wide release.