“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Delivers Second-Biggest Debut Ever


December 15-17, 2017

(estimates from BoxOfficeMojo.com)


Star Wars: The Last Jedi  $220.0 million
Ferdinand $13.3 million
Coco $10.0 million
Wonder $5.4 million
Justice League $4.1 million

While The Last Jedi itself held plenty of surprises, no one should have been surprised that it was the No. 1 movie of the weekend by an extremely wide margin. The latest film in the Star Wars saga debuted with a whopping $220 million. That's by far the biggest opening of the year, and it's the second biggest opening of all time behind (you guessed it) The Force Awakens. There's simply no way The Last Jedi could have competed with the sheer weight of expectations as Episode VII, and there's no way it will match that film's record-shattering $936 million haul. Still, it should remain No. 1 well into the new year. Even with some very vocal die-hard fans who foolishly believe the film isn't faithful enough to the original trilogy (which is kind of the whole point of the film), there's going to be a lot of repeat business. The Last Jedi has already made more than Justice League (ouch) and will almost certainly be in the top 5 by the end of next week. It won't reach $500 million in 10 days like The Force Awakens did, but it will be the highest-grossing movie of 2017 very soon.

Ferdinand opened at No. 2, and it's not a reassuring sign for employees at Blue Sky Animation Studios, who could very likely end up getting laid off if Disney's acquisition of Fox goes through. This was another deceptively expensive animated movie (with a budget over $100 million). Its estimated $13.3 million is well below even underperforming animated flicks like Captain Underpants and right around what Smurfs: The Lost Village opened with.

Coco fell to No. 3, crossing the $150 million mark. It's still way down on Pixar's overall list, but it's done huge business worldwide (including in Mexico, where it's the biggest movie ever). Wonder continued its impressive performance. It's already one of Julia Roberts' 10 most successful movies. And Justice League held on with another $4.1 million.

Outside the top 5:

  • This Weekend's Indie Champ: I, Tonya took the gold once again. It fell by one-third, but still managed an impressive $35,238 on each of its screens.
  • The Disaster Artist almost had a disaster of its own. After a solid debut, it fell nearly 60 percent in its second weekend of wide release. Still, it should end up as one of A24's biggest movies ever.
  • Despite attention from several awards-giving for Denzel's amazing performance, Roman J. Israel, Esq. is tanking even harder than before. In five weeks, it's barely made half of its modest $22 million budget.

Next week:

The Last Jedi gets a lot of competition, but they'll all be jockeying for second place. Episode VIII is going to make at least another $100 million. The Greatest Showman and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle get a head start by opening Wednesday, with Downsizing, Father Figures and Pitch Perfect 3 following on Friday. Only the latter has a shot at coming anywhere close to Star Wars. I think $65 million isn't too outlandish (at least once Christmas Day tallies are included). But the others are going to come in much lower, giving their respective studios a lump of coal.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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