Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker easily won the box office during its opening weekend, but still had by far the lowest debut in the sequel trilogy. Disney’s Star Wars renaissance got off to a rousing start back in 2015, when The Force Awakens rewrote the history books by earning $936.6 million domestically and $2 billion globally. The commercial hot streak continued the next two years, as both Rogue One and The Last Jedi crossed the $1 billion mark. Unfortunately, last year the Star Wars franchise saw its first box office bomb, when spinoff Solo grossed $392.9 million worldwide. That performance was chalked up to a weak marketing campaign and a competitive release date more than anything.

With Star Wars returning to the friendly confines of December, the expectation was The Rise of Skywalker would be a return to form for the property. Early projections pointed in that direction. Estimates that came out back in October had the film earning as much as $225 million domestically in its first three days, but those predictions steadily declined over time, in part due to the movie’s mixed critical reception. As The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, it was all but guaranteed to have the lowest sequel trilogy opening weekend, and that’s precisely what happened.

According to Variety, The Rise of Skywalker made $176 million domestically over the weekend. That’s a far cry not only from The Force Awakens’ then record-breaking $247.9 million, but also The Last Jedi’s $220 million. Even though The Rise of Skywalker has one of the highest opening weekends of 2019, its numbers absolutely pale in comparison to Avengers: Endgame ($357.1 million) and couldn’t even top The Lion King ($191.7 million).

Odds are, The Rise of Skywalker isn’t going to lose money. It’s already at $373.5 million globally and still has its entire run to turn a profit. And despite the word-of-mouth, the film will likely have decent legs, since it’ll face limited competition for ticket sales over the holidays and into January. Holdover Jumanji: The Next Level continues to do well, grossing $26.2 million in its second weekend, but musical Cats bombed horrifically with $6.5 million and the other titles playing are targeting more niche demographics. Fortunately, Lucasfilm doesn’t have another Solo situation on their hands, though The Rise of Skywalker is definitely going to go down as the worst-performing of the new trilogy. Major tentpoles like this tend to be front-loaded, with massive opening weekends before a noticeable decline.

And that’s unfortunate. Throughout its marketing campaign, The Rise of Skywalker was billed as the epic conclusion to the generation-spanning Skywalker saga, pushing it as a bona fide cinematic event on the level of something like Endgame. Granted, there are a ton of movies that would love to make $176 million in a single weekend, but the final episode in the Star Wars saga arguably should be bigger than that - especially since Rise of Skywalker’s two predecessors easily cleared $200 million domestically in their openings. Rise of Skywalker’s debut, while good overall, is an indication the franchise at large has lost some of its appeal that helped The Force Awakens sail to new heights four years ago. It’s probably for the best Disney is putting the Star Wars movies on hiatus until 2022 as they figure out what’s next.

More: All the Ways Rise of Skywalker Completely Retcons The Last Jedi

Source: Variety

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