Weekend Wrap-Up

Rogue One Powers Up the Holiday Box Office

By John Hamann

December 18, 2016

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Here we go! Welcome to the Christmas box office lottery season, where every day is like a Saturday (except for Saturday, December 24th). Rogue One has landed and set the box office (and Will Smith's Collateral Beauty) on fire.

Ever since Star Wars: The Force Awakens lit up the box office a year ago with its $248 million opening weekend (that phrase still looks odd and impossible) and a massive $2.1 billion global take, Disney has been counting the minutes until their next Star Wars flick, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, expanded the universe and story line just that little bit more. Where Force Awakens was a sequel, pushing the overall story forward, Rogue One is a standalone prequel providing a piece between Episode III and the one that started it all, Star Wars: A New Hope.

Box office expectations need to be lowered compared to The Force Awakens, as there was only a year between Rogue One and The Force Awakens; whereas fans waited 10 years for a new film the last time around. The lack of familiar characters like Han and Leia, and not developing the story from Force Awakens was always going to reduce the opening weekend.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story started its assault on the box office Thursday night, when it earned a massive $29 million from its Thursday preview alone. That's the biggest Thursday preview of the year, topping Batman v Superman's $27.7 million and Captain America: Civil War's $25 million. It's the seventh biggest preview of all time, and beat the entire opening frames of films such as Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Ben Affleck's The Accountant. On the other hand, the preview amount is about half of what the Force Awakens earned during its sneak peek ($57 million), but again, comparisons to what was likely the most anticipated film of all time is completely unfair, as this is more of a test of what Star Wars films will do when they stand on their own. On Friday at 2 p.m., Disney was estimating a first day total of $66-69 million (including preview) for Rogue One based on matinee audiences, and rival studios were predicting a weekend of $160 million, with Disney more conservative at $135-$140 million.

The actual Friday was even bigger than that, pulling in an incredible $71.1 million, with Thursday previews included, of course. The opening day is the 12th biggest of all time, and the second biggest for December behind only The Force Awakens. The third biggest December opening day now belongs to The Hobbit, which earned a comparably tiny $37.1 million, or about half of Rogue One's opening day. Comparing the single day to entire December opening weekends, Rogue One would have finished seventh compared to the biggest December opens of all time, leaving it between The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King ($72.6 million opening frame) and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ($65.6 million opening). After one day of release, Rogue One was already the 45th biggest release in the last year.

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