Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been unleashed, and once again the galaxy far, far away is proving that it has no equal when it comes to box-office numbers.
Already a critical success, the film got a nice head start thanks to Thursday previews bringing in $45 million -- and with those figures in the mix, Deadline is reporting that the film took in a $104.8 million (domestically) on Friday. This makes it the second-best opening day of all time, coming in right behind ... Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi is now expected to exceed its moderate opening weekend estimate of $200 million, with analysts thinking it could go as high as $216-$220 million. If this holds true, it would slide into the number 2 slot in the record books for opening weekends, coming in ahead of Jurassic World's $208.8 million weekend haul in 2015 and Marvel's The Avengers assembly of $207.4 million in 2012. The only film that would be ahead of it is, once again, The Force Awakens.
While The Last Jedi might not be getting the same numbers as The Force Awakens did ($119.1 million opening, $247.9 million first weekend), it's still impressive that for a franchise that began in 1977, its biggest competition is with itself. The Force Awakens also came out in a different situation, as it had been 10 years since the last live-action Star Wars film, and audiences were hungry for a return to practical sets and effects.
The Last Jedi is coming out ahead, however, where it is greatly exceeding the (still very respectable) tally made by Rogue One last year, which had an opening weekend of $155 million. That film was more experimental in nature, mainly because it was not a part of the overall Skywalker saga. The Last Jedi is the third Star Wars film in three years, and the numbers so far show that audiences are nowhere close to being burned out on these films -- quite the contrary.
Will The Last Jedi end up taking in as much as $936.6 million (domestically) before the end, as The Force Awakens did? It's anyone's guess, but the box office is surely going to be ruled by it over the holiday, as well as the cold January months. Competition (at least genre-wise) won't be hard to deal with either, as other franchises usually run in fear from the Star Wars juggernaut. The only other film that dared open this weekend is the animated Ferdinand, which stars John Cena as a bull who doesn't want to fight. For a comparison, that film might end the weekend with $15 million.
There's no other way to say it -- the Force is with The Last Jedi. It may not make the same astonishing total as the foundation film that came before it, but it's still a family affair. Star Wars in both top spots in the record books is no small achievement, and it won't have the filmmakers needing to go out and bet on those pod races.