Star Wars: The Last Jedi was always going to be a hit. As a Star Wars film and as the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that was always going to be something of a given. But now the first box-office tracking for the film has arrived, and it's giving us an idea of just how big the film could be.
According to polling, the film is outscoring its predecessor, narrowly, in total awareness, first choice, and definite interest, while just barely underscoring The Force Awakens in unaided awareness (meaning the percentage of those polled who know about the movie without even being asked). The biggest score: total awareness, which came in at 94, versus 92 for The Force Awakens. Basically, that means virtually everyone knows a new Star Wars movie is coming out.
So, based on those numbers, Deadline has expert sources who estimate the film could rake in $200 million on its opening weekend next month. That would give it the second-largest opening weekend of all time, behind -- you guessed it -- The Force Awakens, which hit nearly $250 million during its opening weekend in December of 2015.
This is particularly striking because December movies aren't supposed to make this much money, or at least they didn't used to. The weekends before Christmas are supposed to be for traveling, and people are spending time (and money) on other holiday activities, like shopping and family events. Holiday movies can still be hits, but before The Force Awakens the biggest one was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which clocked in at a robust $84.6 million. That's a great number for a December movie, but it was absolutely dwarfed (get it?) by the return of Star Wars.
There are still several unanswered questions here. The Force Awakens did so well, in part, because it was the first Star Wars film to come along in years, but the mysteries in The Last Jedi's marketing mean people could turn out to be even more intrigued (for the sake of reference, prequel spinoff Rogue One opened to $155 million, which is still spectacular).
Then there's another rather simple condition to consider: weather conditions. It's a winter film, and if people can't get their cars out of their driveways, they can't get to the theater. Whatever the case, it's obvious that -- as we knew all along -- Star Wars is going to have a very merry Christmas.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters December 15.