Star Wars: The Last Jedi is projected to open with a whopping $425 million at the global box office when the long awaited eighth chapter in the Skywalker family saga finally hits theaters this weekend. The Star Wars franchise has always yielded big business at the box office both domestically and overseas, from the landmark original which has earned more than $460 million domestically since its debut in 1977 (with an adjusted gross of more $1.59 billion for a No. 2 slot on the all-time list behind Gone with the Wind's $1.8 billion); to 2015's The Force Awakens, which earned $936.6 million in its domestic run and $1.313 billion overseas on it way to a $2 billion-plus global tally.
Naturally, after the blockbuster run of The Force Awakens a mere two years ago, expectations are high for The Last Jedi, which features a new screenwriter and director in Rian Johnson, Mark Hamill's big return as Luke Skywalker after brief yet monumental appearance at the conclusion of The Force Awakens, and the swan song for Carrie Fisher, who shockingly passed away last December 27 at age 60.
Opening with previews Thursday night and full-scale on Friday, estimates for The Last Jedi's global take are massive as expected. According to THR, the film is eyeing a $425 million-plus million global haul in its opening frame, which includes more than $200 million domestically. If the domestic estimate holds up, it will come up far short of $247.9 million opening by director J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, which combined with $281 million in foreign territories amassed a total of $529 million globally. The Force Awakens held the distinction of being the biggest global opener of all time until last April, when The Fate of the Furious snatched away the top slot with a worldwide opening of $541.9 million.
It's hard to say why the domestic projection of The Last Jedi is far less than The Force Awakens, especially given the film's built-in hype and positive early reactions to the film. It could just be that prognosticators are playing conservative with the estimates because The Last Jedi clocks in at 2 hours 32 minutes – 18 minutes longer than The Force Awakens run time of 2 hours 16 minutes – which could potentially equate to fewer times the film will play for audiences over the weekend. Opening on 4,175 screens, The Last Jedi certainly won't be losing a lot of business to one other wide opener -- the animated family comedy Ferdinand – which is projected to open in the mid-teens to $20 million range on 3,600 screens.
Even if The Last Jedi ends up grossing less in its opening and its entire theatrical run, fans shouldn't fret because the Star Wars franchise isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's a pretty safe bet that fans will start speculating what will happen in 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX the minute they leave theaters after The Last Jedi this weekend.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019