Walt Disney Pictures dominated the box office during 2016, breaking several records thanks to the success of blockbusters such as Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Finding Dory. Of course, the Mouse House has several affiliates, including Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm - home to two of the biggest franchises in the industry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars. Both have large followings and widespread appeal that make each installment massive commercial hits, and it was more of the same this past year. In the summer, Captain America: Civil War brought in a whopping $408 million domestically, a mark that was only passed by Finding Dory's $486.2 million.
After the unprecedented success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm stepped away from the traditional Skywalker family saga to tell the spinoff/prequel story Rogue One, the first anthology film in the series. While it was expected the standalone would do very well at the box office, there was some question as to how high it would go since it was not part of the main narrative and featured an ensemble of largely new characters. Opening to $155 million in the States, Rogue One has dominated the marketplace over the past few weeks, and it has now surpassed the third Captain America film to become the second highest-grossing movie of 2016.
Per the latest numbers (hat tip Comic Book), Rogue One is expected to have a U.S. total of $441 million by Monday, just its eighteenth day of release. That figure is 10 percent higher than 2008's The Dark Knight and 13 percent behind Jurassic World at the same point in those tentpoles' respective runs. By the time the latest Star Wars film winds down in theaters, it should easily make more than $500 million domestically, meaning for the second year in a row, the biggest movie takes place in a galaxy far, far away. Analysts do not believe it will top $600 million, but this is still a terrific haul for what Disney proclaimed to be an experiment in the months prior to its premiere.
Rogue One was able to soar to these heights due to a variety of factors. For starters, it earned widely positive reviews from critics and received strong word-of-mouth from audiences, which helped sell it as a must-see theatrical experience for the holiday season. Additionally, the spinoff did not have to face much in the way of competition since both Passengers and Assassin's Creed (two other PG-13 genre pictures) were mostly panned and became overshadowed by Star Wars. Outside of the animated family film Sing (which is targeting a different demographic), nothing could truly rival Rogue One for ticket sales. The combined performances of The Force Awakens and Rogue One illustrate Disney was smart to shift this year's Star Wars: Episode VIII from May to December, where they should be able to replicate this success.
Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how Rogue One's accomplishments influence Lucasfilm's decision making into the next decade. The spinoff proved that there is a demand and interest in stories removed from the core saga, meaning the Star Wars brand on its own can sell very well. Kathleen Kennedy is considering the possibility that Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX ends the saga and the studio moves forth exclusively with standalones such as young Han Solo and possibly Boba Fett. In order for that plan to become realistic, Lucasfilm needed Rogue One to become a massive hit, and it arguably surpassed even the rosiest expectations.
Source: Comic Book
- Star Wars: Rogue One / Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) release date: Dec 16, 2016
- 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