It’s finally here. Star Wars: The Last Jedi officially hits theaters tomorrow, Dec. 15, with some lucky Luke Skywalker fans catching early showings of the highly-anticipated movie tonight.
After nearly a year of build-up, extensive marketing, and merchandise tie-ins, critics finally weighed in on The Last Jedi earlier this week, with mostly positive reviews. Now, Walt Disney and Lucasfilm will wait to see just how successful the iconic franchise’s latest installment will be with actual movie audiences. There’s little doubt that The Last Jedi will end its opening weekend atop the global box office, but can this movie possibly fare better than its predecessor, 2015’s The Force Awakens?
The Force Awakens blasted into theaters two years ago and immediately broke box-office records, with a record for the biggest domestic opening weekend gross of $247 million. The movie went on to gross more than $2 billion at theaters worldwide, including a record $936 million domestically.
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Hollywood tracking estimates an opening weekend haul of up to $215 million for The Last Jedi (the number could hit $440 million worldwide). That would fall short of The Force Awakens, but it would also make the new movie only the fourth ever to top the $200-million mark for a domestic opening weekend. The Last Jedi‘s opening bow will help industry analysts predict whether or not the film will reach the $2 billion mark, like The Force Awakens, or if it will finish closer to last year’s Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, which grossed just over $1 billion worldwide. The Last Jedi also has Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast ($1.26 billion globally) in its sights as it looks to become the highest-grossing movie of 2017.
Overall, 2017 has been a down year for the Hollywood box office, which is down by more than 4% compared to last year at this time. If The Last Jedi has a similar immediate box-office success to The Force Awakens (which grossed more than $650 million between its release, on Dec. 18, 2015, and the end of that year), then it would provide a major boon to the struggling industry’s yearly results.