Marketing a movie where everyone already knows the ending isn't easy, but it helps when that movie is part of one of the biggest sci-fi franchises of all time. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrived in theaters this week to great acclaim from critics and fans alike, telling the story of how a brave group of Rebels managed to steal the plans for the original Death Star from the heart of the Empire.
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed and Forest Whitaker among its ensemble cast, Rogue One was directed by Gareth Edwards, who previously cut his teeth on another major blockbuster: 2014's remake of Godzilla. Helped along by the promise of appearances by classic Star Wars villain Darth Vader, not to mention a mass of positive reviews, Rogue One has landed in a big way at the box office.
Variety reports that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's opening weekend domestic box office take is a staggering $155 million, and that the film has so far grossed $290.5 million worldwide. Rogue One has yet to open in China, the biggest film market outside of North America, so its foreign total should get a significant boost when it lands in Chinese theaters on January 6th, 2017.
Rogue One was aided by the fact that no other studios were really willing to face a Star Wars movie head-on. Will Smith drama Collateral Beauty was also released this week, but was battered by bad reviews and scraped a mere $7 million at the box office. In second place for the weekend was Disney's animated adventure Moana, with $11.7 million.
Next week a couple of contenders will step up to take on Rogue One in its second weekend. Passengers, the sci-fi romance starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, has been buried under negative reviews and currently has a rating of just 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, which could ruin what chance it had of toppling Disney's Goliath. The other player entering the mix is Assassin's Creed, another sci-fi movie, which is based on Ubisoft's popular video game series. In order to stand a fighting chance against Rogue One, Assassin's Creed will also have to combat the traditionally poor success rates of video game movies.
While it might not seem like much of an achievement that a Star Wars movie should be a box office hit, Rogue One did have a few hurdles in its path. Tonally it is more akin to a war movie than any other film in the franchise, and is therefore a little darker than last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is not an episodic film that continues the Skywalker saga, instead featuring mostly new and original characters in its ensemble. Then again, those traits could arguably be seen as strengths if handled correctly - which, it seems, they were.