The saga continues in the most powerful franchise force in movie history when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters next weekend. It’s been one year since Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke a slew of box office records when Disney took over the series, including best opening of all time and highest grossing domestic earner ever.
All seven pictures that have populated the science fiction tales have been classified as Episodes as part of an ongoing story featuring some of the most beloved and feared characters (plus Jar Jar) on the silver screen. Rogue is our first spin-off and it takes place between Episodes III (2005’s Revenge of the Sith) and IV (the 1977 original A New Hope). That means it focuses on the team tasked with stealing plans for the Death Star. Felicity Jones headlines a new cast of characters that includes Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk. It also means the return of Darth Freakin’ Vader complete with James Earl Jones voicing him. Gareth Edwards (who lasted 2014’s successful Godzilla reboot) directs.
Simply put, the return of the franchise a year ago after ten years of dormancy couldn’t have gone much better financially. Awakens took in an astonishing $247 million out of the gate and reached a $936 million eventual domestic haul. The eagerly awaited Episode VIII will be out in the same mid-December weekend next year. Rogue One is not expected to take in what Force did last year or VIII will next year due to its spin-off status. That said, expectations are still very high.
So the question is: just how high can this go? Some reports have suggested a number between $130-$150 million and that’s certainly a feasible estimate. Yet I can’t shake a feeling that it’ll manage to get a bit more. Rogue is in the enviable position of being the first spin-off and arriving just a calendar year behind the franchise’s return to global domination. In order to accomplish 2016’s largest opening, it would need to top another huge Disney property, Captain America: Civil War which made $179 million to kick summer off.
I don’t think it quite gets there, but generating $160-$170 million seems within reach. My estimate would give it the eighth biggest debut of all time between the final Harry Potter at $169 million and this spring’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice at $166 million. Yes, my projection is a bit higher than what I’ve seen thus far. Yet it’s Star Wars, folks.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opening weekend prediction: $168.3 million
For my Collateral Beauty prediction, click here: