The wait is over! Fans of the Star Wars saga are flooding movie theaters across the country today as The Last Jedi makes its nationwide debut. Following 2015’s The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi picks up roughly 30 years after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi, and finds a new band of heroes struggling to defeat the evil First Order. But unlike The Force Awakens, which was written and directed by JJ Abrams, The Last Jedi takes on a much darker tone, diving further into character backgrounds and bringing to light the tragic fate of Luke Skywalker and his failed Order of Jedi Knights. That means fans will get to see much more of Mark Hamill in the new film but, given the untimely death of Carrie Fisher, can also expect to see some beloved characters get killed off in the telling. Thus far most critics are hailing writer/director Rian Johnson‘s installment in the series, which is said to be entirely his own, despite what Abrams may have set up with in the previous film. Although The Last Jedi is expected to launch with a worldwide box office haul of roughly $425 million, it will likely not be enough to match the North American Box Office earnings record for 2016.
Ticket sales for The Last Jedi in North America are expected to range between $10.95 and $11.15 million for US and Canadian markets, bringing industry earnings down between 2-4% from 2016. A rather embarrassing summer blockbuster run, combined with rising ticket prices and falling sales have all contributed to the loss. Executives in the industry, however, insist that a mere 2-4% drop still reflects positive earnings for the fiscal year. Analysts have also suggested that the ongoing #MeToo movement in Hollywood and changing consumer habits are also negatively impacting ticket sales. Despite the shortcomings of Hollywood (boo-hoo, right?), 2017 saw a rather impressive array of successful, award-worthy films, including Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Patty Jenkins’ highly successful Wonder Woman, Stephen King’s It, a live-action Beauty and the Beast, and Hugh Jackman’s final and most dramatic-run as Wolverine in Logan. Recent releases like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Post, and Phantom Thread are also expected to be major players during this year’s award season. Enjoy the weekend, and may the Force be with you!