It’s December, the movie theaters are jam-packed and fans are igniting their lightsabers. Yep: another Star Wars movie has definitely released this past weekend.
With the film originally expected to have over a $200 million opening weekend thanks to pre-ordered ticket sales, Star Wars: The Last Jedi debuted number one at the box office this past weekend with a $450 million worldwide opening, with the animated film Ferdinand coming in second at $19 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Critically praised and commercially lauded, The Last Jedi is the eighth entry in Star Wars’ main series, and it’s expected to roll in more of a profit in the coming weeks.
Fantastic news as that is for LucasFilm and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, the film is actually under-performing compared to its predecessor. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens released in theaters on December 2015, it was the highest-grossing opening of all time at $529 million, unseated just this year when Fate of the Furious‘ opening weekend grossed over $541 million. The Force Awakens went on to make over $2 billion dollars at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of 2015 and the third-highest grossing film of all time, right behind the James Cameron-directed epics Avatar and Titanic.
Does that spell doom for The Last Jedi? Absolutely not. Even in with its current earnings, Star Wars: The Last Jedi still has the fifth biggest opening weekend of all time, and the second biggest opening in the United States and Canada right behind The Force Awakens. However, while its under performance does not give a clear picture of what its resulting grosses might be, something else might be a deciding factor: the fan’s backlash.
As of publishing, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 56 percent, lower than any of the Star Wars prequel series. Metacritic has a similar user score of 4.9, lower than even the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie. And while it did earn an A from CinemaScore, it simultaneously also earned a 7.9 on IMDb, which aggregates critics reviews with the site’s users.
Ultimately, we’re going to have to wait and see how audience’s divisive reactions affect the film in the coming weeks. It’s entirely possible that the negative feedback will do little to affect the film’s tracking, and it still has two weekends left of the year to place itself in the year’s top 10 highest grosses. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One turned around and placed themselves in the top two spots of their years highest grosses after all, despite being released so late in the year. However, both of those movies also fared an audience score of 87 percent or higher as well from respective aggregated websites.
Only time will tell whether The Last Jedi will join the billion-dollar club with its cinematic brethren or not.