Is Star Wars fever beginning to dissipate? That’s the question Disney will be looking to answer this weekend as the numbers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker begin to come in. The last Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story, seriously underperformed at the box office, and Disney is about to see if that was a blip or a harbinger of things to come.
The studio sent out the opening night box office totals for The Rise of Skywalker, and so far the newest Star Wars movie seems to be performing all right. It’s the fifth highest opening night box office of all time with $40 million, which puts it ahead of Avengers: Infinity War, and that movie made $2 billion worldwide at the end of its run. However, the $40 million opening puts Rise of Skywalker behind the $57 million earned from The Force Awakens on opening night and even behind the $45 million from The Last Jedi.
I wouldn’t say that this means interest in Star Wars is waning as much as sequels tend to perform slightly weaker than their predecessors unless the sequel itself can be turned into some kind of event. Age of Ultron made less than The Avengers, but those movies rebounded because Infinity War and Endgame were set up as a world-changing event. Disney has tried to position the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga as the same kind of event, but there are two problems. First, fans are skeptical that this is really the end of the Skywalker Saga, and second, they’ve seen a Star Wars trilogy close out before. They’ve seen it twice now.
That doesn’t mean The Rise of Skywalker will be a flop or underperform, but we also shouldn’t be shocked if it ends up making slightly less money than The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.