Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has sat at the top of the box office for the last three weekends (no surprise there). But it looks like another film has come to challenge its dominance -- and it’s an Oscar frontrunner with some significant buzz behind it.
1917 has been playing in select cities since Christmas Day. But beginning this weekend, it’s expanding out to more than 3,400 theaters nationwide. The World War I drama -- which follows two soldiers as they race against time and enemy threats to deliver an essential message -- already had a bit of buzz. It has stellar reviews and a noteworthy editing style that makes the film seem like it happens in one continuous shot. But it received a major boost last weekend, when the film won Best Motion Picture Drama and Sam Mendes’ took home the Golden Globe for Best Director.
Those accolades more or less secured 1917’s place as an Oscar frontrunner. But it seems like it could also be helping to propel the film to box office glory. According to Box Office Mojo, 1917 brought in $3.25 million during Thursday night screenings alone. While it was originally tracking for a $35 million opening weekend, the website is now projecting it could fare much better than expected.
By comparison, Box Office Mojo expects Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to bring in roughly $17.3 million, which should be enough to secure second place. However, they noted that Jumanji: The Next Level isn’t far behind, and could edge the franchise behemoth out. It’s worth noting that The Rise of Skywalker saw a big dip in attendance after its opening weekend, which could be partially due to the fact that it received mixed reviews from both critics and fans. That being said, the last chapter of the Skywalker saga is still a success for Disney and Lucasfilm, having accumulated nearly a billion dollars in ticket revenue since its release.
On the surface, The Rise of Skywalker and 1917 really couldn’t be more different. But it’s only a little surprising that Sam Mendes’ latest masterpiece is capable of box office domination, with or without the award season spotlight. Sure, its stars are virtually unknown, and its subject matter isn’t exactly light. The film’s marketing team has done an incredible job of enticing moviegoers, though, by framing it as the kind of movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And after a year full of huge franchise films, movie fans have shown they’re also ready for more original fare. Case in point: 1917’s fellow Oscar nomination contenders Knives Out and Parasite have both recently found exceptional success at the box office.
And this is likely only the beginning for 1917. With Oscar nominations due on Monday, January 13, it could see yet another surge in interest, depending on how many nods it receives.