With a little more than three weeks to go until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters to close a nine-film saga, the film's box-office projections have landed. So, how does Rise stack up against the last two films in the sequel trilogy?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Rise of Skywalker — which reunites stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac with The Force Awakens director and co-writer J.J. Abrams — is expected to hit somewhere in the $175-$200 million range when it lands at the box office the weekend before Christmas.
That number comes amid reports that Disney is hoping to "manage expectations" for The Rise of Skywalker's performance in a somewhat unreliable year at the box office. The film will also be competing with other major holiday releases including Jumanji: The Next Level, which opens one week before Skywalker, and the much-memed Broadway adaptation CATS, which will open on the same day.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived 10 days before Christmas in 2015 and went on to set a box-office record with a whopping $248 million opening weekend. Star Wars: The Last Jedi came along in a nearly identical window two years later and snagged $220 million in its opening weekend. At first glance, those numbers might suggest that this all means The Rise of Skywalker is fated to be the lowest-grossing film of the sequel trilogy, but it's a little more complicated than that.
In November of 2015, some box-office projections showed The Force Awakens earning as little as $170 million, and according to Deadline at the time the "high end" of the film's tracking was $210 million, nearly $40 million below what it ultimately earned. The Last Jedi's early tracking paints a similar picture. Variety reported in November of 2017 that Rian Johnson's Force Awakens sequel would open "in the $200 million range," and the film topped that prediction by $20 million.
So there are a lot of factors to consider here. The Rise of Skywalker could end up beating the high end of its box-office projections by just a little and still clock in below The Last Jedi, or it could ride the "end of the Skywalker Saga" hype wave to beat expectations and land somewhere in between its two predecessors. The film's advance ticket sales topped both previous installments in the saga after pre-sales opened back in October, so there's certainly no small amount of hype surrounding this episode. It's all going to come down to how many people decide to kick off their pre-Christmas celebrations in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters December 20.