It’s not a box office bust by any conceivable measure, but the opening weekend for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker fell well short of those posted by its two predecessors.
The final chapter in Disney’s Skywalker Saga nabbed $175.5 million at the U.S. box office, contributing to a worldwide opening weekend total of $373.5 million. The domestic ticket sales figures leave it just outside the Top 10 opening weekends of all-time in the U.S., with Skywalker settling in at #12 between Captain America: Civil War ($179.1 million) and 2017’s Beauty and the Beast ($174.8 million).
Even accounting for the fact that Sunday opening weekend figures are always estimates, it’s clear already that The Rise of Skywalker won’t be catching up to the other two. The Last Jedi, released in Dec. 2017, enjoyed a $220 million opening weekend in the U.S., the fourth-biggest opening of all time.
The Force Awakens, released in Dec. 2015, fared even better. That first entry in the new trilogy, also the first Star Wars from Skywalker director J.J. Abrams, opened with $248 million. It’s the third-biggest U.S. opening of all time, behind Avengers: Endgame ($357.1 million) and Avengers: Infinity War ($257.7 million).
Star Wars is going to be just fine in the long run. Skywalker‘s opening weekend is still larger than any other movie in theaters right now. It’s also bigger than the openings posted by 99 percent of the other movies released in 2019 – it’s only behind Endgame and The Lion King.
Who can really say why it’s smaller than the others? Solo might have something to do with it, as the last Star Wars released (in 2018) and one that people were generally sour on compared to other Star Wars movies. Some might also point to The Last Jedi, which drew plenty of toxic backlash, sure, but is also one of the more divisive movies in the series.
Some have suggested the fans of Star Wars are also feeling franchise fatigue, following a release cycle that’s been pretty much annual since 2015. Though the success of Baby Yoda makes it clear there’s plenty of appetite for more Star Wars so long as it’s hitting the right buttons.
Personally, I want to believe that lots of people skipped The Rise of Skywalker because they were much more interested in seeing Cats. Though the $6.5 million opening box office for Cats tells a different story. (Hey, go see Cats.)
Whatever it is that caused the box office dip for Star Wars, opening weekends mean very little in the grand scheme. We won’t have the full picture on The Rise of Skywalker until we see the box office totals at the end of its full theatrical run. But this start certainly suggests that Star Wars-loving moviegoers had other things to do the weekend the new movie opened.