In December 2015, The Force Awakens broke box office records left, right and centre, taking $2bn worldwide. Two years on, however, is there any chance that Episode VIII can do the same? Here are my Star Wars: The Last Jedi box office predictions.
Can The Last Jedi match The Force Awakens’ $2bn?
In short, no. The hype surrounding The Force Awakens was at fever pitch for an entire 12 months, being the first Star Wars film in a decade – whereas this year The Last Jedi hasn’t had anything like that anticipation from the general public.
History also teaches us that the first film in a trilogy has the advantage. In the original trilogy, A New Hope made the most money, of the prequels, The Phantom Menace did the same. That shows that there’s always a natural dropoff in general interest over the course of a series, and coming from the incredible heights of The Force Awakens, it’s almost impossible for The Last Jedi to do any better.
The only way that The Last Jedi could possibly outperform Episode VII is if it’s really, really, really good. Many non-Star Wars fans went to see The Force Awakens out of curiosity, to see if the new era of Star Wars could entice them in the way previous films hadn’t, and that’s a part of the reason the film had such high box office takings, especially in its historic first weekend.
If The Last Jedi, on the other hand, is so good that critics and general audiences make it a must-see event (and we’re talking 100% on Rotten Tomatoes etc.), then it might be able to pull in more than The Force Awakens, in similar fashion to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘s huge box office takings in comparison to The Hunger Games.
So how much money will it make?
It’s a little difficult to really say, but the end result will be integral to the future of Disney’s Star Wars programme. The main difference between The Last Jedi and the The Force Awakens and Rogue One is that it’s an already established story, so there might not be the same level of curiosity and originality surrounding it.
We’ve already established that The Last Jedi won’t break $2bn, so let’s look at what happened to Rogue One. Lucasfilm admitted it was used as a tester for public interest in the ‘anthology’ series, and in that regard, its worldwide gross of $1.1bn can be seen as a success for a film that focused on unknown characters and a much nerdier story.
However, it wasn’t the highest grosser of 2016, being beaten by Captain America: Civil War, and $1.1bn feels a little low for a Star Wars movie, especially when the Fast and Furious movies and every family animation is easily breaking through the $1bn barrier.
So, that might suggest that there has been a loss in Star Wars interest since 2015, which might have a big impact on The Last Jedi’s takings.
As part of the main saga, The Last Jedi should easily outperform Rogue One’s box office takings, but we have to be conservative in predictions, meaning I would probably place its final worldwide gross around $1.4-1.7bn.
But we can’t forget the new titan of the box office: China. No longer does the USA run the movie world, and Hollywood is well aware of the box office power in the Middle Kingdom.
When I made my Force Awakens box office predictions, I said that the massive Chinese box office would be a huge help to its gross, possibly even lifting it to $3bn worldwide. However, over the last two years, we’ve seen that China is more of a hindrance to the success of Star Wars films worldwide than anything else.
While The Force Awakens became the highest grossing film of all time in the US & Canada, UK, and numerous other Western markets, it performed fairly middlingly in China, a trend that was replicated by Rogue One again in 2016.
Experts have suggested that a lack of nostalgia and interest in the Star Wars universe contributed to its underwhelming performance in comparison to the West, where Star Wars is a huge part of the cinematic lexicon, while others feel that simple cultural differences, Disney’s marketing, or releasing the film three weeks later than the rest of the world could have hurt its performance.
Over the last few years, Hollywood has been pandering to Chinese audiences with big, loud 3D blockbusters, ranging from Warcraft (which failed in America but soared in China) to The Fast & The Furious, a genre that the population hasn’t yet become exhausted of as in the West. However, Star Wars is attempting to recreate the classic form of the blockbuster, something that Western audiences loved in 2015, but the Chinese weren’t so thrilled by.
FINAL BOX OFFICE PREDICTION
The Last Jedi won’t set the box office alight like The Force Awakens did, but it will still be a hugely successful film, and will easily dominate the Christmas period, and very likely become the highest-grossing film of 2017 – over Beauty And The Beast and The Fate Of The Furious.
I believe that The Last Jedi will finish on a worldwide gross of $1.6bn, after an opening weekend on December 15-17 of $450m.
Whatever happens, it’s time to start getting excited again, because a new Star Wars film is just three months away!