Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought in $45 million at the box office Thursday night, the second-highest Thursday preview total ever. Only Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed more during its Thursday preview screenings, with $59 million in receipts. The Force Awakens went on to the biggest opening weekend ever with $247 million. It ultimately became the highest-grossing film in U.S. history with $936 million.
Box office projections for The Last Jedi, the second installment in the current Star Wars trilogy, predict a $200 million U.S. opening weekend. Projections say The Last Jedi will take in roughly $425 million in its opening weekend worldwide. All projections for The Last Jedi forecast huge grosses that fall a bit short of The Force Awakens' performance. The Last Jedi, however, looks like it should solidly out-perform last year's spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which did $29 million on Thursday and bowed to $155 million its first weekend. Rogue One grossed $532 million at the domestic box office and $1 billion worldwide.
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THR reports that Star Wars: The Last Jedi looks on-track to meet projections, grossing $45 million in Thursday previews. With those numbers, The Last Jedi will bump Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 from the #2 spot behind The Force Awakens.
If projections are met, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will wind up 2017 as the year's box office champ, bumping Disney's Beauty and the Beast which grossed $502 million. Disney currently has the #3 grosser in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($389 million), and the #6 in Thor: Ragnarok ($302 million). Disney's other major live-action franchise entry of the year, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, sits at #15 with $172 million. If there's such a thing as a Disney sleeper hit, Coco would be it, with $139 million (good enough for #19).
The Star Wars money making machine shows no signs of running down with The Last Jedi, a heavily marketed film that will bring in even more cash through merchandise. Next year, Disney will go back to the spinoff well with Solo: A Star Wars Story, an early adventure in the life of Han Solo. Production problems plagued Solo as original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced with Ron Howard, who reshot a huge chunk of the film. Observers will watch Solo's numbers closely for signs of cracks in the thus far invincible Disney Star Wars juggernaut.
Down the road, Disney will release Star Wars IX with J.J. Abrams back at the helm. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will develop a new trilogy after that, with a story unrelated to the current trilogy. Rumors persist of spinoffs involving Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi. Recently, Rian Johnson added his name to the chorus of people calling for women and people of color to have a shot at directing a Star Wars film. That might even happen in our lifetimes.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019