Movies | December 25, 2017 12:40 pm

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Keeps Box Office Crown, But is No ‘Force Awakens’

Drop of 69 percent from opening weekend may show disgruntled rogues won.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Finn (John Boyega) in a Ski Speeder on Crait in STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming back down to Earth.

The eight installment of the saga (ninth action movie in the Disney/Lucasfilm franchise) took the top spot at the box office over the four-day Christmas weekend with $100.7 million for a cumulative domestic haul of $397.3 million through Monday — but those numbers very much show a disturbance in the Force.

Director Rian Johnson’s epic earned $65.5 million over the traditional three-day, Friday to Sunday, weekend, a drop of 69 percent from its $220 million opening seven days ago. That’s not completely unprecedented — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II dropped 72 percent between its first two weekends in 2011 and still ended up doing quite well.  But it’s certainly not great news for a franchise that’s held to the highest box office standard in the film business.

Because those numbers aren’t anywhere near the same orbit as 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which dropped only 39.8 percent ($248 million to $149 million) in its second weekend. And even Rogue One, the first standalone film in the franchise with mostly previously unknown characters, earned a nearly identical $64 million in its second three-day weekend — after a more respectable drop of 58.7 percent from its $155 million opening tally.

All those internet detractors who didn’t agree with the critics’ acclaim may actually be doing more damage to The Last Jedi than a Sith with a cross-shaped lightsaber.

“A near 70 percent drop is not something we would have expected, given how strong the film opened and the overwhelmingly positive reviews from the critics,” ComScore senior box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told RealClearLife.

“I think the fan review bombing was a factor,” he added. “There was a lot of passion out there for this movie, both pro and con.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Stormtroopers Jonathan Olley. (©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.)

To be fair, the most wonderful time of the year is also the most crowded time at the multiplex. Finishing in second-place this weekend, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle rode the tandem of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart to a $50.4 million opening over the four-day holiday weekend ($36.4 million from Friday to Monday) and siphoned off the attention of many younger Star Wars fans. Pitch Perfect 3 also opened to a respectable $25.6 million over the holiday weekend ($20 million F-S-S).

But much has been made about the film’s 52 percent audience score against the 92 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes — a strange dynamic considering many popcorn movies are loved more by fans than critics. Right-wing trolls have claimed credit for skewing the numbers in a campaign to punish Star Wars for including so more women and people of color as main characters, but there’s no denying the volume of long-time fans who just didn’t gravitate to this story.

Part of the drop could be accounted for by fewer repeat viewings on the part of the normally-reliable legion of fanboys and fangirls.

At least in this country.

Don’t shed too many tears for Disney: The Last Jedi earned estimated international take of $380.3 million to date, to run its global total to $745.4 million through Sunday. The film won’t even open in China, the second biggest movie market in the world, until Jan. 5. Only a Death Star blast destroying this planet could prevent this movie from easily crossing the $1 billion mark.

“It’s hard to think of this as a lump of coal in he stocking for Disney with those kind of the numbers,” said Dergarabedian. “I wouldn’t be crying for Lucasfilm.”