Validating Walt Disney Co’s strategy of spinning new stories and characters off of the sci-fi classic, ticket sales of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” through Friday put it on track to top the box office and post one of the biggest opening weekends of the year.
Disney said in an e-mail that the feature, a prequel to the original 1977 “Star Wars,” collected an estimated $71.1 million in theaters in the U.S. and Canada through Friday. From countries including the U.K., Australia and Germany that account for about 60 percent of the total international box office, it generated $33 million from international ticket sales through Thursday. It will debut in South Korea on Dec. 28 and China on Jan. 6.
$29 million domestically was drawn from ticket sales from Thursday night’s preview. With $57 million, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” holds the Thursday night preview record. Including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” and some of the “Twilight” films, only a handful of films have topped $30 million from preview screenings. With $27.7 million, the biggest preview this year had been Warner Bros’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” before “Rogue One”.
Between $140 million and $150 million domestically will be generated by the film’s full opening weekend, Disney estimated. The studio also sees the film bringing in $130 million to $150 million outside North America.
More aggressive forecasts were given by some box office analysts. BoxOfficePro.com forecast an opening weekend for the sci-fi feature at $155 million, Hollywood Stock Exchange put it at $166 million and Box Office Mojo put the domestic debut at $166 million.
With $248 million, the record for the largest opening weekend in North America is held by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.
Following its $4 billion takeover of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012, Disney is testing its ability to expand the “Star Wars” franchise beyond the trilogies created by George Lucas with “Rogue One”. The he studio is creating a universe of characters and storylines that can be interwoven to create new movies, like the strategy Disney applied successfully with its Marvel Entertainment superheroes. Keeping fans coming back to theaters for at least four more Star Wars installments will be the pressure on Disney.
According to Box Office Mojo, “Rogue One” cost $200 million to produce, not including marketing costs.
a rebel alliance led by Princess Leia that attempts to destroy the Galactic Empire’s space station, the Death Star, by using stolen plans is depicted in the first “Star Wars” movie in 1977. “Rogue One” is the story of how they get those plans.
According to aggregator Rottentomatoes.com, with 85 percent giving positive reviews, the movie scored highly with many critics. According to NPR critic Chris Kilmek, the movie is “a tense, well-made spacefaring war movie about a desperate and demoralized band of insurgents standing up against a rising authoritarian regime”.
(Adapted from Bloomberg)