‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Hits $220M Mark Despite Some Disturbance in Force

Vocal minority of disgruntled fans drowned out by record box office.

December 17, 2017 5:27 pm

The only Force powerful enough in the film universe to best Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the box office… was the previous episode of the saga. And the eighth episode of the sci-fi saga dominated its opening weekend despite a vocal minority of Star Wars fans strafing social media with gripes over director Rian Johnson’s critically acclaimed movie.

Since even the naysayers had bought tickets long ago, however, their resistance was moot, if not muted.

Disney scored the second highest box office opening of all time this weekend as The Last Jedi earned $220 million on 4,232 North American screens — behind only its 2015 predecessor, Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($248 million). There was certainly no other competition this year: second place this weekend went to Fox’s animated family film, Ferdinand, which earned $13.3 million at 3,621 locations. Or, to put it in proper perspective, $207 million out of first place.

“I don’t know of any other franchise that can maintain this level of excitement over this many years,” said ComScore senior box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Disney seems to be ruling the Earth right now.”

This is, after all, just days after the studio announced its acquisition of 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal to create the largest movie power in the galaxy.

And the haul is even more impressive across this planet. The Last Jedi has already earned $450 million globally in less than a week — and the film hasn’t even opened yet in China, the world’s second-biggest market.

Yet, the longterm potential for Episode VIII to continue to dominate is at least in question by the bizarre backlash from a segment of its fandom. While critics have lavished the film with praise — earning it a 93 percent “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned a horrid 57 percent audience score on the review aggregating site. Genre films tend to be more beloved by fans than critics, not the other way around. But the film did receive both an “A” from Cinemascore, which more directly measures audience feedback.

“I can’t think of a pop culture movie where this has been the degree of difference in reaction,” movie historian Leonard Maltin told RealClearLife.

“But it’s still a first class problem. Look all the negativity that surrounded the trio of Star Wars prequels — and they made a fortune,” added Maltin.

“When I was still with Entertainment Tonight, I asked George Lucas something about the relative mixed reaction of (1999’s The Phantom Menace) and he looked at me somewhat quizzically and said, ‘It made money than the original.’”

Maltin said a Star Wars movie is too much of a pop culture event for any fan to stay away, and even the most critical among them will be back for the Han Solo standalone film next May.

And Dergarabedian believes that at least some of those detractors will be seeing The Last Jedi a second time to further dissect the film. ComScore’s PostTrak exit surveying found that 33 percent of responders were planning a repeat viewing in theaters.

“A ticket bought in anger costs the same as a ticket bought out of love, so either way Disney wins,” said Dergarabedian.

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