EXCLUSIVE: The dark force from critics isn’t keeping Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker down with the Lucasfilm finale to the George Lucas-created saga seeing between $44M-$48M per Deadline sources tonight.
At that level, Rise of Skywalker will wind up being either the third or fourth best preview night ever with the current top three being last April’s Avengers: Endgame ($60M), 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($57M) and 2017’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi ($45M). Again these figures do not come from Disney, but are from our own sources. Disney could come in lower or higher than what we’re seeing by daylight.
By the way, this anticipated level makes sense given that exhibition and Fandango were seeing advance ticket levels pacing with Last Jedi. That Rian Johnson directed movie saw its Thursday rep 43% of its $104.6M Friday on its way to the 4th highest opening of all time, $220M. Only seven movies have ever opened to north of $200M at the domestic B.O, all but one of them are from Disney; two of them, Force Awakens and Last Jedi, natch, debuted in December. While tracking has Skywalker in the $170M+ range, industry sources are projecting it north of $200M over the next three days.
Of the last three Skywalker trilogy pics, the last installment here by director J.J. Abrams is unfortunately the lowest among critics at 56% Rotten Tomatoes next to Force Awakens‘ 93% certified fresh and Last Jedi‘s 91% certified fresh. Both of those pics earned A CinemasScores. We’ll see how tonight’s exits are in the morning.
Skywalker previews began tonight at 5PM in 450 theaters for special fan event screenings with a further nationwide break at 6PM. Skywalker will be in 4,406 theaters by tomorrow AM — the widest opening ever for December ahead of Last Jedi‘s 4,232 theaters. Of that count, 3,200 are 3D locations, 415 are IMAX screens, 850 are Premium Large Format screens with 275 D-Box/4D locations.
In theaters like the AMC Empire on 42nd St. in NYC, Skywalker is playing throughout the night, every hour on the hour with 1am, 2am shows all the way through sunrise and into the next day. Ditto for venues in LA like the AMC Century City and Hollywood Arclight. Tickets are still available.
Fans are celebrating the last huzzah of the nine-title series from Japan to France to Mexico. Early China numbers through the first two days of previews are soft as expected at $4.5M, but Nancy’s sources expect a $250M overseas debut overall. Skywalker is opening day and date with domestic in all territories except for Vietnam (Jan. 3) and Korea and the Philippines (Jan. 8).
As far as other openers that are previewing tonight, I heard that both Universal/Working Title/Amblin’s Cats and Lionsgate/Bron’s Bombshell are both around $1M give or take. Why be crazy and go up against Star Wars? For both distribs it’s about teeing off heading into Christmas. If the Cats fans come out in the wake of the pic’s bashing by critics (20% Rotten), then hopefully it reaches double digits over the next 3 days so as to sustain a great holiday multiple. Bombshell‘s projections are between $7M-$12M. Most adults don’t come out until after Christmas for these types of pics, however, the masses make an exception for Star Wars movies and don’t allow holiday activities to get in the way.