‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Set For Box Office Disappointment

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has turned a profit on its $200 million shooting budget — in fact, it did so easily in its first weekend — but that does not mean it has met expectations.

Disney is closer to realizing another $1 billion grosser in the standalone film, but when compared to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the industry’s initial projections, it is not pacing to meet expectations.

The Guardian reported in early December that most accounts had a worldwide projection for Rogue One at around $1.4 billion.

This weekend, Box Office Mojo reports, the film crossed the $914 million mark, capturing a fourth weekend atop the U.S. box office, improving domestic totals to $477 million against $437 million internationally.

Even with a large budget and equal costs to market the film — to be clear, Disney has not revealed how much it spent on spreading the word, but doubling a production budget is pretty standard for these types of films — the House of Mouse has still brought home over $500 million in profit.

It is cause to celebrate except for the fact that Rogue One is about to enter the tapered end of its box office run with this week pulling only $21 million domestically, one-third the previous weekend.

With the holidays now past, the numbers are expected to trail off even more. Forbes expects Rogue One will end up beating out Captain America: Civil War to be the top-grossing film of 2016, but it will not do much beyond that.

Assuming Rogue One is able to stretch out its worldwide totals to $1.2 billion, it will fall $200 million short of the already lessened expectations from the previous film (Star Wars: The Force Awakens clocked in at just under $2.1 billion).

Perhaps even more concerning for fans of the Star Wars saga is the fact that, historically, subsequent films following a layoff like the one experienced between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens perform below expectations.

By the time Return of the Jedi released in 1983, it had witnessed a drop off of close to 40 percent from the 1977 original. Similarly, with the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith fell by around 20 percent in its final worldwide take compared to The Phantom Menace.

Rogue One at $1.2 billion would be a decline of around 42 percent compared to The Force Awakens, and it could diminish expectations for future Star Wars films, starting with 2017’s Star Wars: Episode VIII.

The big variable for Disney is that it has attempted to set aside Rogue One from the rest of the Star Wars Universe. While the film connects to the 1977 original, it is self-contained and not a part of any longer form storytelling.

If viewers buy it, then Episode VIII could perform better than Rogue One, but that is a gamble in a sense because general audiences are not as likely to make the distinction that Disney is attempting.

In other words, if Rogue One is “just another Star Wars film,” Episode VIII could suffer from viewer burnout. And considering that Disney is planning a new Star Wars film of some kind each year through at least 2021, $1 billion may be harder to reach in subsequent attempts.

But what do you think, readers?

Should Disney be disappointed by the fact Rogue One will not hit that $1.4 billion box office projection, and do you think the franchise’s best days are ahead of or behind it? Sound off in the comments section below.

[Featured Image by Disney/Lucasfilm]