Rise of Skywalker earns lower than expected, Cats get spayed
Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened at #1 this weekend with an estimated $176 million domestically, far lower than advanced projections of $205 million and even Friday estimates of $193 million. Still, that domestic debut for the J.J. Abrams film is the 12th biggest all-time, the 3rd biggest of 2019 (after only Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King) and the 3rd biggest December opening ever. It is the 7th Disney release of the year to post an opening weekend over $100M.
This domestic performance didn’t touch either The Force Awakens‘ 2015 opening of $247.9 million nor The Last Jedi‘s 2017 opening weekend of $220 million. The downward trajectory could be a mixture of franchise fatigue, mixed-to-poor reviews, or possibly a later Dec 20 release date than the previous two Skywalker movies, which opened on Dec 16 and Dec 13, respectively. The later date meant non-die hard audiences were busy preparing for the upcoming Christmas holiday, and may catch the film next week instead.
Rise of Skywalker also took in $198 million internationally for an estimated global debut of $374 million. The film earned $35.5 million from 1,455 IMAX screens in 73 markets. That’s the 3rd highest IMAX Global opening in December and the 6th highest global opening ever for IMAX. In North America, the IMAX gross was $18.4 million, also the 3rd highest IMAX Domestic opening in December. International’s $17.1 million is the 2nd highest International IMAX opening ever in December.
At #2 was Sony’s sequel Jumanji: The Next Level, which brought in $26.1 million in its second weekend for a $101.9 million domestic tally and $311.9 million worldwide for the reuniting of Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin hart and Karen Gillan from the 2017 sequel Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. That’s already a solid performance for the new entry, but it’ll be a long hike to catch up to the last movie’s $962.1 million.
Coming in third was Disney’s Frozen II, which in its fifth week held steady with only a 35.5% drop to $12.3 million for a domestic total of $386 million for a worldwide haul of $1.1 billion. The animated sequel is only a hair’s breath away from surpassing the 2013 original’s worldwide gross of $1.27 million, and should continue to perform very well with families over the holiday.
This was a crushing week for Universal’s adaptation of the hit musical Cats, which despite a brand name, a star-studded cast and an Oscar-winning director in Tom Hooper took in a ghastly $6.5 million for fourth place. The poor performance appears to be a combination of awful reviews, a terrible C+ CinemaScore rating, and criticism of the film’s VFX, which were not helped by reports yesterday that Universal was sending out a new version of the film to theaters today with improved visuals. Internationally Cats only took in $4.4 million for a $10.9 million worldwide total. However you spin it, this is shaping up to be one of the big losers of 2019.
Lionsgate’s mystery comedy Knives Out continued to hold strong at #5 with $6.1 million for an $89.5 million total and $185.5 million worldwide. Lionsgate’s other big film of the weekend Bombshell went from 4 to 1480 theaters to take sixth place with $5 million for the Fox News sexual assault drama.