Box Office Report: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Has Second Highest Opening Ever and Has Eyes on 'Titanic'

Box Office Report: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Has Second Highest Opening Ever and Has Eyes on 'Titanic'

Dec 18, 2017

Star Wars: The Last JediHere's your estimated five-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi - $220.0 million ($220.0 million total)

2. Ferdinand - $13.3 million ($13.3 million total)

3. Coco - $10.0 million ($150.8 million total)

4. Wonder - $5.4 million ($109.2 million total)

5. Justice League - $4.1 million ($219.4 million total)

6. Daddy’s Home 2 - $3.8 million ($96.5 million total)

7. Thor: Ragnarok - $2.9 million ($306.3 million total)

8. The Disaster Artist - $2.6 million ($12.9 million total)

9. Murder on the Orient Express - $2.4 million ($97.2 million total)

10. Lady Bird - $2.1 million ($25.9 million total)


The Big Stories

Moviegoers can finally let out a breath this weekend as Fox’s long-awaited Ferdinand hits theaters. Sure, that’s a cheap move but if R2-D2 can do one in the new Star Wars film, why not the rest of us? Certainly, it was no cheap move this week when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox to the tune of $52.4 billion, which actually provides an interesting contrast with the release of their new blockbuster.

Yes, everyone knows that Episode VIII, The Last Jedi opened this weekend. Even CNN took a moment to report on the $45 million that Rian Johnson’s film made just in Thursday night previews; second only to The Force Awakens’ $57 million. Now all that remains is how high up the ladder it will climb. Will it become the new all-time domestic box office champion? Or will it have to settle to be just, financially and artistically, the next Empire Strikes Back?


Is It The Last Jedi?

Being one of the biggest openings of all-time, there is little info to suggest just how far The Last Jedi can climb. My standing two-year prediction that it could become the first billion dollar dometic release already may be taking a hit due to a smaller opening than The Force Awakens and suggestions of trolls and bots not taking the whole “kill the past” theme of the film too well.

They are likely a small percentage of viewers, as real fans (and those who appreciate a little risk with their nostalgia) will be the ones spreading the same kind of love that critics have shown the film with a 93% at Rotten Tomatoes. That joins just 15 wide releases to receive a 92% or higher this year (Lady Bird, Get Out, The Big Sick, Coco, Baby Driver, The Disaster Artist, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes, Logan Lucky, All Saints, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Dunkirk, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Wonder Woman). Its $220 million opening weekend (and $450 million worldwide) is nothing to sneeze at either; it's the second biggest of all-time.

One thing we associate massive openings like this with are not just the sometimes equally massive drops of an uncontainable front loading but also a lower-than-usual multiple that helps gauge a public’s lasting interest in multiple viewings and spreading good word-of-mouth. In the case of the three biggest openings of all-time (The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Marvel’s The Avengers), though, they have bucked the trend and each finished over the hallowed 3x multiple marking (respectively 3.77, 3.12 and 3.005).  

These are significant, given that not only did each of those films do over $600 million domestically but just how rare it is for an event film to hold that kind of momentum. The Dark Knight and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were the next two down the list with that achievement, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Finding Dory. That’s still only seven of the top 30 openings of all-time.

Looking at the Top Ten of all-time, a 3x multiple generally comes with the territory. Only Avengers: Age of Ultron and this year’s Beauty and the Beast failed to achieve that. (The Dark Knight Rises in 11th also missed.) But very much in The Last Jedi’s advantage is the holiday season when multiples are far more off the charts. Of the top 50 openers ever in December, only two of them (The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Golden Compass) failed to achieve the 3x multiple.

In that respect, we could set the lowest bar on The Last Jedi at $660 million, which would be good enough to best Titanic for the third highest-grossing domestic film of all time. The third lowest multiple amongst the 50 best December openings ever is Ocean’s Twelve’s 3.20. There will be much more to report on in the coming weeks. But to close with a sentiment that Rian Johnson would appreciate, this is just the beginning.

Tales of the Top Ten

Back to Ferdinand we go with an opening that probably has employees of Blue Sky Studios biting their fingernails over, given the recent merger. A $13.3 million start is not going to give Disney confidence that they need another animation division. Then again, they likely would not have opened the film against Star Wars.

You have to go far down the list to find animated films that opened as low as Ferdinand in December, such as The Tale of Despereaux ($10.1 million), The Emperor’s New Groove ($9.8), The Adventures of Tintin ($9.7) and The Wild Thornberrys ($6.0). OK, so it's not Delgo ($511,920) and films that have opened around this number have gone on to success. In 1998, The Prince of Egypt went from a $14.5 million opening to $101.4 million and Stuart Little jumped from $15 million to $140 million.

Blue Sky can certainly try to wish upon a star that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is not going to steal its audience away next week. But a number lower than Ice Age 5’s $64 million domestic total and Blue Sky could be just another china shop awaiting Disney’s charge.

Speaking of Disney, Pixar’s Coco has passed the $150 million mark. That’s still just $12 million less than Moana had at this point but Coco is also about $2.5 million off its weekend pace. Its $10 million fourth weekend is still better than Tangled’s $8.77 and it is still $22 million ahead of that film. So $200 million is still very much in play, though it looks like it will fail to be in Pixar’s top 12.

After weeks of speculation, Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder finally leapfrogged Justice League in the top five. The heartwarming family film is now less than $9 million away from moving into Lionsgate’s all-time top ten as well and the third highest non-franchise film, up there with La La Land and Fahrenheit 9/11.

As for all-timers, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird -- the best positive-to-negative reviewed film of 2017-- is just a bit more than $2 million away from becoming A24’s all-time domestic grosser. James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which dropped 58% this week despite an additional 170 theaters, is eighth on that list but will easily make it into the top five by next weekend.

If you want to listen to Erik Childress’ Holiday Box Office Prediction Show, you can download the podcast.

Erik Childress can be heard each week evaluating box office on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio as well as on Business First AM with Angela Miles and his Movie Madness Podcast.

[Box office figures via Box Office Mojo.]

Categories: Features, Sci-Fi, Animation
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