The Star Wars franchise has now seen the release of its first non-episodic live-action movie in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The movie comes as part of Disney and Lucasfilm’s plan to release an anthology movie in the years that an episodic installment doesn’t hit the big screen – and follows the release of the 2015 film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Fans of the series have been anxiously awaiting the release of Rogue One for some time now – and with the movie dropping around a time when there’s little-to-no competition in theaters, it’s now on-course for an impressive opening weekend gross. Estimated figures for the film’s Thursday night opening at the box office suggest that it’s well on its way to an opening weekend take that’s in the range that many have been predicting, in recent weeks.

Deadline is reporting that Rogue One took in an estimated $30 million at the U.S. box office during its Thursday evening preview night screenings. Although that number is 47% less than Force Awakens’ record $57 million Thursday night last year, it’s a very impressive debut nonetheless. The news will come as a welcome relief to Disney/Lucasfilm, as will the critical and fan reception – now sitting at 85% and 89% fresh for critics and general users, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes (see our own Rogue One review).

Rogue One Tim Sexton poster edit Star Wars: Rogue One Debuts With $30 Million Thursday Night

If these figures turn out to be accurate, Rogue One will become the second-best opening day’s eve that the month of December has ever seen, as one of just seven movies to gross that amount on a preview night. This amount will likely double to around $60 million after tonight’s showings, whilst the weekend should allow the film to rake in over $140 million. All signs are pointing towards Rogue One becoming a major success, with Fandango ranking the movie as its No. 2 advance ticket seller of all time following Force Awakens.

For fans of the Star Wars universe, these numbers should come as great news. Not only do they showcase the appeal that standalone movies from the franchise have alongside the episodic releases, but they could encourage those at Disney and Lucasfilm to add even more films to their slate of upcoming releases in the distant future.

Of course, when a new movie is released as part of the Star Wars franchise there are always going to be huge expectations. There may be people out there deeming the $30 million opening night a “disappointment” simply because it didn’t match up to Force Awakens’ record-shattering numbers – but they should perhaps hold out to see the figures Star Wars: Episode VIII pulls in next year before passing too much judgment.

NEXT: Rogue One’s Biggest Spoilers & Reveals

Source: Deadline

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