NOTE: Box office figures as of January 9, 2018
Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been in theaters for about a month, the record will show that the film is a box office success. Lucasfilm's latest blockbuster, of course, is the sequel to 2015's The Force Awakens, which rewrote the record books en route to a whopping $936.6 million domestic haul and more than $2 billion worldwide. Because Episode VII was such a well-received hit, it was widely expected Last Jedi would be one of the biggest films of the year - even if it couldn't match the output of its predecessor. After all, The Force Awakens was a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic event that arrived a decade after Revenge of the Sith and more than 30 years following the original trilogy. No film, even another Star Wars, could top it.
While it was generally accepted The Last Jedi wouldn't rival The Force Awakens' gaudy numbers, there was some outside chatter about its box office performance after it took a 69 percent hit in it second weekend. That, combined with Episode VIII being the most divisive entry in the franchise, seemed to spell trouble for Lucasfilm in these early day of the Star Wars renaissance. However, those concerns are hardly warranted, and the figure illustrate that The Last Jedi is one of the most successful films of all-time.
The Domestic Champion
It's no secret we're currently living in the Golden Age of superhero movies, but Star Wars remains ruler of the multiplex. That The Force Awakens shattered the all-time domestic record is no surprise, but it was interesting to see spinoff Rogue One soar to the top of the U.S. charts in 2016. Even with the presence of major sequels like Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War, a standalone Star Wars film featuring a fresh cast of characters took the crown. So when Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and Luke Skywalker returned for the next installment of the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi was poised to dominate the holiday season.
Most projections had the movie pegged for about $200 million in its first three days, but it far surpassed that with $220 million - the second biggest debut in history. To put that number in perspective, Justice League has earned $227.1 million for its entire Stateside run and Logan made $226.2 million. Though The Last Jedi eventually lost the top spot on the weekend charts to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it quickly ascended the charts, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2017 in the blink of an eye. Before the calendar flipped to 2018, Star Wars 8 had already unseated fellow Disney blockbuster Beauty and the Beast and crossed the $500 million mark. As of this writing, The Last Jedi has earned $576.8 million domestically and has an outside chance of passing The Avengers for fifth place before its run is done.
Some may recall The Last Jedi was originally scheduled to debut in May 2017 before Lucasfilm pushed it back seven months. Besides avoiding a showdown with Wonder Woman (oh, how things never change), that shift allowed them to replicate The Force Awakens formula - complete with a similar marketing strategy. Kathleen Kennedy and company found a gold mine in December, reaping the benefits of being one of the few tentpoles in town. It's for this reason it was odd they always stuck with a summer date for Solo: A Star Wars Story, but Episode IX will bow in December 2019. With James Cameron's Avatar sequels staking claim to Decembers over the next handful of years, it will be interesting to see where Lucasfilm slots Rian Johnson's trilogy.
The Last Jedi is nearing $600 million domestically, and that figure alone would ensure it makes a nice profit for Lucasfilm. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Like several other tentpoles before it, Episode VIII played around the world, taking advantage of an increasingly important international box office. When the global numbers are taken into account, there's no denying The Last Jedi is a monumental success.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019