Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had a stellar opening weekend a few days ago, and the good folks at Lucasfilm want everyone to know about it. They've released a slew of new 15 second TV spots highlighting the film's great reviews, and touting its status as the "#1 Movie In The Galaxy."
All of these new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story spots can be seen in this single video below. Check them out, and then join me afterward for a discussion on the film's box office prospects:
As of 5:30PM yesterday, Deadline was projecting that Rogue One had successfully crossed the $200 million mark at the domestic box office. This puts the film alongside other films that rocketed to $200M within six days; Films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dark Knight Rises, Captain America: Civil War, and Iron Man 3. While it's tracking 43% behind last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which crossed $200M before its opening weekend was even over, most box office analysts agree that it's not fair to compare Rogue One- a spinoff- to a film that was a proper chapter in the Star Wars saga.
The question now becomes, just how far can the film go? In this day and age, studios have become rather spoiled. While there was a time when a film hitting anywhere north of $500 million was reason enough to pop those champagne bottles open on the studio lot, nowadays some people look at the billion dollar mark as a barometer. We can thank films like Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight for that. Since that film's epic run in 2008, everyone started expecting a lot more from blockbuster tentpoles that have a built-in fanbase. In that time, 20 films have crossed the billion mark.
As of three days ago, CNBC was optimistic that Rogue One could enter that exclusive club, making Disney "the first studio with four billion-dollar films in one year." The prequel/spinoff currently sits at just north of $370M worldwide, and it has an A CinemaScore, so there's reason to be optimistic. Especially when you consider that the last Star Wars film made $2.4 billion.
But it'll be an uphill battle, despite its current prospects.
For starters, let's look at current box office trends. If we look at two of this year's other heavyweights- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War- it's easy to see that this can still go any number of ways. BvS had a better opening than Rogue One did (by $11 million), and didn't cross the $1B mark. Civil War also opened bigger (by $24 million), and only just barely passed that mark with a $1.1B final cume. Meanwhile, both of those films featured tons of beloved characters with their own rabid fanbases, which is a luxury Rogue One simply doesn't have.
Disney CEO Bob Iger once referred to Rogue One as "an experiment, of sorts," and the studio's expectations were always relatively modest. For its opening weekend, it was thought that the film would make somewhere in the $135 - $150M range- a stark contrast to the $248 that The Force Awakens made last year in the same frame.
A few things that work in Rogue One's favor is that fans gave it the same A CinemaScore as Civil War, it's got considerably better reviews than Dawn of Justice did, and tons of kids and families are about to enter their Christmas breaks.
The coming days and weeks will be very telling, and it'll be extremely interesting to see how Lucasfilm digests the film's performance when they have an important, strategic meeting in January as they determine what the future of the Star Wars franchise looks like. Studio head Kathleen Kennedy has said that the film's performance could decide whether or not the Episodic Saga will continue past Colin Trevorrow's Star Wars: Episode IX or if they'll move in a Standalone-Only model beyond that point.
If Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fails to make a billion- which means it would've only made roughly a third of what The Force Awakens did- do you think they'll scrap future Star Wars Stories and just double down on the Episodic Skywalker Saga?