Weekend Box Office: The Disney Empire Strikes Back

Gee, didn’t see this one coming.

Disney/Lucasfilm’s latest offering from the indestructible Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi, was a force to be reckoned with at movie theaters nationwide this weekend. The opening numbers for the eighth chapter of the Skywalker saga came very close to matching the record opening set two years ago by its predecessor The Force Awakens.

Powered by a galaxy of marketing, hype and strong reviews, Star Wars: The Last Jedi forced its way to a majestic $220 million from 4,232 venues. The acclaimed Rian Johnson-directed sequel began its run Thursday night with $45 million in ticket sales. Friday was good for $59 million –or $104.7 million if you combine Thursday and Friday-; Saturday finished up with $64 million while Sunday’s estimate is pegged at $51.2 million. The opening numbers for Last Jedi were responsible for a whopping 82% of the top ten’s business for this week.

On the critical side, Jedi scored a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 86/100 from Metacritic and a solid “A” from ticket buyers polled on opening day by CinemaScore. Viewers that chimed in on Rotten Tomatoes were a little more critical than those on CinemaScore. By the end of Friday Jedi was branded with a 56% approval rating, which equates to a “Rotten” score. As has been the case in the past with rating films on IMDB, one has to ponder the validity of Jedi’s grade given the CinemaScore rating as well as the fact that the horrendous Justice League scored an 80% approval rating. Yes, that Justice League.

Whether that chorus of disapproval is the result of bots or upset bitchalots with nothing better to do, there will be no stopping The Last Jedi from becoming the biggest film not only of the Christmas season, but also the year. With Christmas and New Years just around the corner and many on vacation until January 2nd, the latest Star Wars blockbuster will dominate the box office well into January on its way to a final box office total between $700-800 million.

Overseas this weekend, The Last Jedi blasted off with $230 million.

Only one other film dared to open in the wake of The Last Jedi: the Fox/Dreamworks animated feature Ferdinand. Featuring the voice talents of John Cena, Kate McKinnon and David Tennant, Ferdinand opened with an okay $13.3 million from 3,621 theaters. Reviews were decent, with the film scoring a 73% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, a 58/100 on Metacritic and an “A” on CinemaScore.

Despite the arrival of Luke Skywalker and Ferdinand, Disney/Pixar’s Coco continued to hang tough in its fourth weekend. The hit cartoon scored an estimated $10 million from 3,155 theaters, a decrease of 46% from one week ago. The new domestic total for Coco is $150.8 million. International grosses for Coco stand at $297.4 million so far.

In fourth place was the Lionsgate family drama Wonder with $5.4 million from 3,047 theaters. Off 36% in its fifth weekend, Wonder has scored a great $109 million to date. Overseas, the film has banked $44 million to date.

Rounding out the top five in its fifth weekend is the Warner superhero flick Justice League with an estimated $4.1 million from 2,702 screens. Off 57%, the pricey Zack Snyder feature has earned $219.4 million to date domestically and an additional $414.5 million from international markets. With the film running out of steam quickly both here and abroad, the chances of Justice League breaking even at the box office are becoming less likely by the day.

  1.  Daddy’s Home 2 (Paramount) $3.8 million (-36%); $96.5 million
  2.  Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel/Disney) $3 million (-53%); $306.3 million
  3.  The Disaster Artist (A24) $2.6 million (-59%); $13 million
  4.  Murder on the Orient Express (2017) (Fox) $2.47 million (-52%); $97 million
  5.  Lady Bird (A24) $2.1 million (-39%); $26 million

With Christmas one week away, Hollywood rolls out a plethora of new flicks this upcoming week. The Greatest Showman and Jumanji (2017) arrive on Wednesday while Downsizing, Father Figures and Pitch Perfect 3 arrive on Friday.

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