With just one day before Thursday night previews bring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to entire world, it looks like online ticket sales for the movie’s opening weekend are pretty much on par with where The Last Jedi was at the same time in the sales cycle. What do The Rise of Skywalker ticket sales numbers mean for the box office success of the movie? Let’s talk it out below.
The fact that online sales from Fandango, announced by the company in a press release, are only on par with The Last Jedi instead of ahead is somewhat surprising. Meanwhile, Atom Tickets is seeing sales that put The Rise of Skywalker coming in just behind The Last Jedi. That comes after The Rise of Skywalker set ticket presales records.
We would have thought that the finale of the Skywalker saga would be receiving more interest. But maybe people are looking to avoid crowds or waiting to hear word of mouth before they rush out to see it. It is the last full weekend before Christmas, after all, and people need to get last-minute shopping done. There’s a chance some may wait to see it with families coming into town for the holiday as well.
As of now, The Rise of Skywalker represents more than 70% of Fandango’s daily ticket sales, so it’ll still do huge business this weekend. But we may not be looking at record-breaking box office, both as a Star Wars movie and a blockbuster in general. Even so, there’s still excitement for the franchise out there among the younger crowd. Fandango surveyed more than 1,000 millennial moviegoers, and here’s what they learned:
91% are preparing for The Rise of Skywalker by watching 2017’s The Last Jedi, while 86% are watching 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” 83% are taking a break from social media to avoid all spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 82% claim that Star Wars is among their favorite film franchises. 73% have seen every single film in the Star Wars franchise. Nearly half plan on seeing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the big screen at least twice during the holidays.
Will that allow The Rise of Skywalker to follow in the box office footsteps of the final installments of the previous two Star Wars trilogies? Both Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith saw an uptick in box office when compared to their predecessors, The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones. The rise in box office for Return of the Jedi was only around $20 million domestically, and the international box office actually dropped. Meanwhile, Revenge of the Sith saw a jump of $70 million domestically, and roughly $130 million internationally.
Looking at this new sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi saw the expected box office drop that sequels typically have. It was a bit more steep of a drop since Force Awakens revived Star Wars in such a big way. Domestically, The Last Jedi earned $316 million less than its predecessor, and internationally, it made nearly $420 million less.
So will there be an uptick in box office between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker? That remains to be seen. This analysis of ticket sales was done before the reviews and social media reactions started hitting the web, so there’s no way to know if the divisive or negative reactions from critics so far will have any impact on the movie’s box office. What could help or hurt the results is word of mouth once the opening weekend crowd starts posting their reactions. It will certainly be interesting to see how general audiences react to the finale of the Skywalker saga and whether it ends up being satisfying to both fans and the studio.
Thanks to Box Office Mojo and their terribly redesigned site for all the box office numbers in this story.
There’s one particularly telling and effective moment in The Skywalker Legacy, the feature-lenght documentary that’s included on the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker home release that sums up much of the ambivalence and consternation that some had with J.J. Abrams’ return to the Star Wars universe. After showing the intricate construction of a giant, practical snake monster, the doc cuts back to footage of Jabba The Hutt, that old analogue beast that slithered its way into our hearts. The sentiment is clear – we’re making movies like we used to! A celebration of practical effects, the dripping of k-y jelly to give viscosity just like the old costume days, it’s all there. There’s excitement on set, everyone talking about how amazing it looks, how lifelike, how this is how you’re supposed to do movies like this.
Cut to Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett who shatters the myth, letting us know the creature was replaced by a CGI version in post.
Guyett’s resume is mighty. Having made his bones on groundbreaking films like Twister and Casper, he helped Spielberg bring the events of D-Day to screen in Saving Private Ryan, helped bring to life the best looking film in the Harry Potter series, Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban, and even made the theatrical version of Rent feel more than a stage production. Guyett has had many collaborations with Abrams – from the Star Trek Reboots through The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker he was even second unit director on the former, as well as working with George Lucas on Episode III to round off the prequels. He’s in a unique position to speak to these changing landscapes of epic filmmaking.
We spoke at length about the apparent contradictions and indulgences in making a Star Wars film, and he made the case for why nothing was wasted and all contributed to the final presentation. He was erudite and open to the discussion, making for a dream conversation with a man who quite literally has helped shape what amazes us on screen for decades.
The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
We see practical effects being championed as almost a marketing ploy with the “postquels” as a mix of nostalgia and an attempt to delineate from Lucas’ second trilogy. In some ways the love of the practically-realized snake undercuts the extraordinary CGI you and your team accomplished, and raises questions about why the need to fetishize the on-set inclusions when they’re replaced anyway. Could you talk about that ethos, that somehow doing stuff on a computer is a “cheat” while doing an effect practically is not?
I think at the end of the day we’re all trying to do the best that we can, trying to make the best, most dramatic or emotional movie we can visually. I’m coming from figuring out how do you get the most...
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and its incredible throne room scene remains burned in our minds, even three years after the polarizing film’s release. Now, as we sit twiddling our thumbs and scrolling through Twitter during our self-quarantines, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is dropping a few behind-the-scenes photos from that scene, as well as a sweet candid image of Carrie Fisher. See The Last Jedi behind the scenes photos below.
The Last Jedi Behind The Scenes Photos
A few lovely ones from the archives spoilers I guess pic.twitter.com/HWgeFkI0qG
— Rian Johnson @rianjohnson March 19, 2020
Shot on Johnson’s Ilford 3200 camera, the black and white photos offer a few glimpses of what it was like behind-the-scenes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The third photo is a pretty funny one, showing Andy Serkis, who voiced and motion-capture performed the role of the villainous Supreme Leader Snoke, crying over a prop of Snoke’s bisected body after he had been killed by Kylo Ren Adam Driver. It may come as a bit of a surprise that Snoke’s body was actually a prop and not entirely digital, but we had actually learned this in our oral history of the throne room battle scene.
But while Serkis sheds fake tears over his character’s dead body, you may shed some real tears to see Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac who played the rogueish pilot Poe Dameron goofing around in the first image, which Johnson admits had “some funkyness happening with that,” but he liked how it came out nonetheless. It’s amazing that Johnson had time to snap these photos while he was busy directing a tentpole sci-fi film that would go on to rake in $1.3 billion worldwide, but hey, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker is a multi-tasker.
The Last Jedi images come right as the final film in the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, comes on digital and before it arrives in 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 31.