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How much money will Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker make in its opening weekend? One early box office forecast is in, and it's huge -- but huge is relative when it comes to Star Wars. The 2019 movie is projected to potentially have a lower opening weekend box office than Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But considering Episode IX pre-sales just broke some records, it may be worth raising an eyebrow at any "lower" estimates.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn't opening for another two months, but the box office prognosticators are already hard at work crunching opening weekend numbers.
Box Office Pro posted its long-range forecast for Episode IX:
Opening weekend range: $185 – 225 million
Opening weekend estimate: $200,000,000 for the three-day opening December 20-22.
Domestic total range: $550-750 million
Sometimes Box Office Pro is close, sometimes not. An Episode IX opening weekend in that range would be a drop from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, which set a record at the time with its $248 million opening weekend in 2015. That movie went on to be the current leader as the highest-grossing movie of all time at the domestic box office. (Avengers: Endgame has the worldwide title, which includes the foreign box office.)
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi had an opening weekend of $220,009,584 in 2017. So if The Rise of Skywalker opens on the higher end of Box Office Pro's forecast, it could top The Last Jedi. The site is currently going with $200M for Rise of Skywalker's opening, but leaving the door open for more. I'd open that door a lot wider if it were me.
I do think Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is going to pass The Last Jedi at the box office, and I think that will start with its opening weekend.
Yes, there is anger out there after The Last Jedi, and some fans are in no rush to watch The Rise of Skywalker in the theater. It's also apples to oranges to compare pre-sales for Avengers movies to Star Wars movies, since the early ticket rush from hardcore Star Wars fans may not be emblematic of a larger mainstream rush to see the final Star Wars movie over opening weekend.
I still think if The Force Awakens opened to $247,966,675, and The Last Jedi opened to $220,009,584, that The Rise of Skywalker will open somewhere in between that. As Box Office Pro even noted, Star Wars trilogies have established a pattern of the first movie making the most money, the second one declining significantly, and the third rebounding for a second-best performance. That may well happen again.
Here are the total domestic and international grosses for the previous two trilogy movies, per Box Office Mojo:
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Worldwide total: $2,068,223,624
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Worldwide total: $1,332,539,889
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker should pass $1 billion easily, and I do agree with a total domestic projection of $550-750 million, considering how massive that gap is. I'd estimate on the higher side -- higher than the $620M of The Last Jedi but almost certainly lower than the $936.6M of The Force Awakens since that's the single biggest domestic total in history.
If J.J. Abrams hits The Rise of Skywalker out of the park, and word-of-mouth in the fandom is extremely positive -- like it has been for most of the trailer footage -- I could see Episode IX rivaling The Force Awakens' box office. The movie is meant to end with a mind-blowing final shot for the franchise. I'm excited to see it. People are going to want to avoid spoilers, and that means seeing it themselves first.
Reviews from critics may not sell the movie either way, but if fellow fans love it and the word spreads, then I can see Rise of Skywalker potentially joining The Force Awakens in the $2 billion club.
How much do YOU think Rise of Skywalker will make in its opening weekend? More or less than The Last Jedi's $220 million and The Force Awakens's $248 million?