The Force has some new allies in the run up to the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and Deadline.com tried to downplay box office predictions that show the ninth and “final” film in the Skywalker saga could make well under $200 million in its opening weekend.
For 99 percent of movies, those figures are stunning. This is “Star Wars,” though, a franchise that roared back to life with 2015’s “The Force Awakens” but stumbled with its last two installments – “Solo: A Star Wars Movie” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
The former made $213 million in toto at the U.S. box office, a sum far, far below a standard “Star Wars” tally.
The THR report says “The Rise of Skywalker,” in theaters Dec. 20, could make between $175 and $200 million during that critical first weekend.
Compare that to “The Force Awaken’s” $248 million haul and “The Last Jedi’s” $220 million tally on their first respective weekends. That’s a potentially sharp fall for a saga Disney hopes to spin off in a number of new ways.
THR’s spin machine quickly revved up to defend the modest numbers. “That’s on par with early forecasts for ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘The Last Jedi,’” the sub-head reads.
“The Force Awakens” also had some suggesting it would eclipse the $200 million mark, too.
Here’s THR spinning even more on the saga’s behalf.
Lucasfilm and Disney are trying to manage expectations for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, considering the volatile state of the box office. And Skywalker also faces competition from Jumanji: The Next Level, which hits theaters a week earlier and is showing sizable strength on tracking.
Volatile box office? This is a “Star Wars” movie, one meant to cap a saga that has dominated pop culture for 40-plus years. “Jumanji” is tracking in the $40 million-plus range, hardly a mortal threat to Lucas’s space opera.
Variety even used similar verbiage to describe Disney “managing expectations,” framing the new film’s shrinking predictions as “mighty.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is powering toward a mighty opening weekend when it hits theaters Dec. 20.
The far-left Deadline.com reportage gets even sillier.
As of 8AM, one tracking firm says $175M, but that seems low. Working in Skywalker‘s advantage is that Abrams, and stars Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are already hitting the talk show circuit to generate heat.
Film geeks know all about director J.J. Abrams, but to say his talk show banter can move the box office needle is silly. And how many stars far bigger than Ridley and Driver work the talk show circuit with minimal results?
Will Smith just found that out the hard way. All his considerable charms, and talk show appearances, couldn’t save his recent flop, “Gemini Man.” Smith’s star power is a dozen times stronger than Ridley’s or Driver’s, no offense to either actor’s talents.
Not only did many fans loathe “The Last Jedi” for turning Mark Hamill’s iconic Luke Skywalker into a scowling stick in the mud, conservatives railed against the film’s unnecessary woke turn.
The film featured female commanders dressing down men (including the allegedly heroic Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac). One sequence baldly played up the rich vs. poor rhetoric beloved by the far Left. The addition of Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a bland character who epitomized the “Mary Sue” critiques in modern pop culture, didn’t help.
“Star Wars” has never been overtly political or partisan. Now, suddenly, it was both – to the saga’s detriment.
For two years media outlets downplayed that element of the fan blowback. It’s just Russian trolls, they told us. Now, Deadline.com admits it in no uncertain terms that “The Last Jedi’s” creative decisions deeply damaged the franchise.
When Skywalker reviews break should they report that this threequel is course correcting the left turns that many fans griped about in Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi, word will break out like wildfire and the sky is the limit when it comes to this threequel’s opening. Hands down.
Does the writer refer to the film’s leftward tilt, the ill-conceived twists introduced in the eighth film … or both? Heck, even the “Star Wars” theme parks aren’t driving sales as expected.
The spin raises another question. Why would the media, which declared war on the recent “Joker,” act like media publicists for the “Star Wars” story?
Disney currently rules the box office universe. It’s hardly an underdog story.
The saga is now run by Kathleen Kennedy, a rare female studio player in post #MeToo Hollywood. Plus, the saga’s progressive turn also makes it worth protecting for entertainment scribes.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” could over-perform the early estimates. Abrams has a firm grasp of pop culture, and he may be ready to steer the saga toward the conclusion it deserves.
Word of mouth, both old school and online driven, could save the day of the film delivers.
For now, suggesting the franchise isn’t in trouble is wishful thinking.