In the months leading up to the theatrical release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney wisely downplayed the spinoff's commercial expectations. The Mouse House never expected the film to rival the astronomical numbers posted by The Force Awakens last year, but now that Rogue One is in the midst of its box office run, they have to be extremely pleased with the way things turned out. Lucasfilm's first Star Wars anthology film hit the high end of its opening weekend projections, bringing in $155 million domestically (the second-highest debut in December history) during its first three days. Since then, Rogue One has been hitting various financial milestones on its journey to the $1 billion club.
With most of Rogue One's competition struggling to leave much of a dent at the marketplace due to poor critical reception, the galaxy far, far away was poised to dominate the multiplex over the extended holiday weekend. It took full advantage of the situation and grossed $96.1 million over the four-day frame, an excellent hold for a massive studio tentpole. As Rogue One continues to draw in large crowds, it has now crossed $300 million just in the United States.
According to Variety, the standalone is up to $318.2 million Stateside and $573.8 million worldwide. On the 2016 domestic chart, Rogue One currently ranks ninth, making it Disney's sixth film in the top ten this year. It joins the studio's other smash hits Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book, Zootopia, and Doctor Strange, capping off what has been a record-setting year for the Mouse House. Rogue One's success in particular is very noteworthy, since it provides Lucasfilm with the leeway to produce more spinoffs following the premiere of the young Han Solo film in 2018. Kathleen Kennedy is weighing the pros and cons of having Star Wars: Episode IX be the grand finale of the Skywalker family saga, so knowing that they can work outside that narrative is good to know.
The only question that remains now is how high Rogue One will go. It's been in theaters for just under two weeks, so it still has a long way to go before it closes. At this point, it's almost a foregone conclusion that it will be the third film of 2016 to reach $400 million domestically and could very well challenge Finding Dory ($486.2 million) for the overall top spot. As we make our way into January, there's very little opening that could pose a serious threat; even if business slides a bit to the point where Rogue One loses the #1 position in a couple of weeks, it'll still be one of the highest-earning films at the box office throughout the next month. Odds of it reaching $1 billion globally are high, where it would be Disney's fourth offering of the year to earn that amount. A $400/$500 million domestic; $1 billion worldwide ratio would be a terrific final haul and a great (and more manageable) precedent for the Star Wars series moving forward.
It will be interesting to see how the performances of Rogue One and Episode VII influence Lucasfilm's decision making when it comes to scheduling their upcoming projects. December has proven to be a goldmine for the studio, but the impending arrival of Avatar 2 in 2018 could throw a monkey wrench in the plan to make Star Wars an annual holiday tradition. However, there is a chance James Cameron's sequel misses its targeted release date, which would open the door for Han Solo to shift from summer to winter. It's hard to argue with these results, so Disney would obviously like to stick to the December window as long as possible.