Just one year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens became the biggest movie event in recent memory, audiences will once again return to the galaxy far, far away in the spinoff/prequel Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It entered 2016 as the most anticipated film as voted by viewers, and that status has not changed over the past 12 months. Lucasfilm has pieced together another strong marketing campaign, as fans have responded positively to the various trailers and TV spots that tease an emotionally-riveting war drama in space.
Though Disney has downplayed the project’s commercial expectations, the buzz and sense of excitement surrounding Rogue One has set it up for a very lucrative box office run this holiday season. The first opening weekend projections came out recently, suggesting that Rogue One could make in excess of $130 million domestically, which would be the second-highest debut in the history of December. That figure no doubt includes several dollars generated from pre-orders, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Rogue One is doing great in advanced sales.
Per THR, the first Star Wars anthology film has had the biggest pre-sales of 2016. The website MovieTickets.com said that Rogue One posted their largest day of the year, with the total amount sold 90 percent of what The Force Awakens brought in during its first day of pre-orders. Additionally, Fandango is reporting that Rogue One scored their best day of 2016, and second-best all-time behind only Star Wars 7. That is an incredible feat, considering this year has seen its fair share of long-awaited films like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. The Force remains strong with the zeitgeist.
No doubt, Lucasfilm has to be very pleased with these results. Rogue One represents something of a risk for the studio; it’s the first live-action Star Wars film to take place outside of the main Skywalker family saga and is banking more on the appeal of the brand than recognizable characters (Darth Vader’s minor role notwithstanding). These numbers illustrate that Disney’s plan to annualize the massive tentpole is indeed a viable plan, as interest in the property remains high regardless of what the movie is about. If Kathleen Kennedy is in fact thinking about a Star Wars future that’s exclusively standalones, Rogue One grossing this kind of money could make that decision somewhat easier when the time comes.
Of course, the final verdict on Rogue One won’t come until after its theatrical run is complete. Given its status as December’s major blockbuster, its opening weekend was always going to be huge. The greater indicator will come in its following weeks, where it will face some high-profile films vying for the same demographic. If Rogue One‘s word-of-mouth is anything like the reception for the trailers, then it will be in phenomenal shape and easily become one of the top-earners of the year. With the world premiere set for Saturday, December 10, it won’t be long until fans learn if the film can live up to the hype. Disney has had a 2016 to remember – both critically and commercially speaking – so odds are Rogue One can end the Mouse House’s year on a high note.