Why 'Last Jedi' Isn't Beating 'Force Awakens' at the Box Office

Getty Images / Christopher Jue

The Force is strong with Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the box office, but it will not beat the record-breaking opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Box office results for the latest Star Wars epic are in, and the film is making a lot of money. But, it won’t dethrone the episode that preceded it. Here’s why.

On Sunday morning, industry analysts predicted that The Last Jedi would round out its opening weekend with a whopping $220 million-plus at the domestic box office. And while that’s nothing to wave a lightsaber at, those numbers will not be enough to dethrone The Force Awakens’s $248 million opening weekend from December 2015.

These numbers shouldn’t be too shocking to anyone who’s paid attention to previous Star Wars box office numbers — meaning analysts and the people who write about this stuff for a living. But casual viewers might be confused as to why Last Jedi, with its gleaming critical reviews and the ridiculous amount of chatter going on about it online, is still falling behind Force Awakens. This is, after all, the movie that’s changing everything in the Star Wars universe and challenging our understanding of Light and Dark like never before.

And that is where the problem lies.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the ninth film in the Star Wars universe. Fans are pretty comfortable with their understanding of how these films work; good and evil are steadfast and maybe we get a single twist near the end of the film. In fact, because The Last Jedi is the second movie in the trilogy, it’s expected to fall in step with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, home to one of the biggest twists in cinematic history.

People expect a little bit of the unexpected. But Last Jedi takes that to a whole other level. To be clear: writer and director Rian Johnson takes Star Wars to a whole other level. And a lot of Star Wars fans aren’t really cool with that.

It’s possible these differences are what’s keeping The Last Jedi from repeating Star Wars’s history of sequels beating out the first film in a trilogy on their opening weekends.

Still, 220 million is no failure, and there may be other factors at work here. Historically, though Star Wars sequels often have great opening weekends, they tend not to make as much money as the beginning film in a trilogy long term. Plus, everything is different now that Star Wars films come out every year, as opposed to every three years. One year to wait for a new Star Wars movie is not the same as ten.

But while The Last Jedi doesn’t seem set to beat out Force Awakens on opening weekend, that doesn’t mean it won’t win out in the end. Its overall box office gross could still set a record.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now in theaters.

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