‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Almost Broke This Box Office Record

Making a movie is difficult enough as it is. But imagine the pressure of delivering a satisfying conclusion to a 42-year saga. No matter what fans think of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, director J.J. Abrams certainly had a challenge ahead of him.

The film has actually divided fans and critics, with the latter pinpointing all the ways the new film undermines 2017’s The Last Jedi. But Disney and Lucasfilm still had high hopes the movie would become a commercial success. As it turns out, the movie definitely has done that.

The marquee of 'Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker'
The marquee of ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’ | JC Olivera/Getty Images

Expectations going into the new ‘Star Wars’

As the grand finale of the nine-part Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker was under a ton of narrative pressure. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio needed to find a way to unite all three Star Wars trilogies. Even more difficult, this new film hoped to overcome fan backlash surrounding The Last Jedi.

The Star Wars fandom, of course, has a long history of in-fighting. Even the beloved original trilogy is not without its flaws. But the prequels and now the sequels have pushed fans even further apart. Could The Rise of Skywalker possibly kickstart the healing process?

Not really. If anything, The Rise of Skywalker has complicated matters. Fans who love The Last Jedi seem to be mostly disappointed with Abrams’ latest. Conversely, those who disowned Rian Johnson’s 2017 effort are pleased Abrams was able to “rescue” the franchise from near-death.

The ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ box office take

Commercially at least, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is performing well, though not as well as expected. While the film was never going to hit the $936 million domestic heights of The Force Awakens, ticket sales don’t indicate the saga’s demise either.

In fact, on Christmas Day 2019, the film’s worldwide total reached $500 million. In the United States, The Rise of Skywalker brought in $32 million, the best Christmas Day gross since The Force Awakens. Even in the face of family-friendly competition like Jumanji: The Next Level and Little Women, audiences choose Star Wars.

2019 has already been an insanely profitable year for Disney. Thus far, the studio has had $1 billion global hits in Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, Frozen 2, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Captain Marvel, Toy Story 4, and Aladdin. With that track record, a new Star Wars will only be the icing on the $7.67 billion cake.

How much will the film make?

On its opening weekend, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker raked in $176 million domestically. While impressive, that total did mark a significant step down from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. After all the debates of the past couple years, some pundits wondered if The Rise of Skywalker might be a relative disappointment.

As it stands, the film has earned — as of this writing — $316 million domestically and $598 million worldwide. Considering the film’s reported $275 million budget, Disney likely needs the film to hit roughly twice that to turn a profit during its theatrical run. Such is the rule of thumb when factoring in marketing costs.

Will The Rise of Skywalker hit roughly $550 million domestically? That feels unlikely, as does the movie breaking through the golden $1 billion benchmark worldwide. If it does fall short, it will be only the second Star Wars film of the Disney era to do so, after Solo. A sign of franchise fatigue? Perhaps. At least fans still have The Mandalorian.