No Jedi? No problem. Moviegoers can’t resist returning to a galaxy far, far away.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” crushed the competition en route to a $155 million domestic opening, proving once again that the “Star Wars” brand is a force to be reckoned with.
The haul was the third largest domestic opening of 2016, trailing only “Captain America: Civil War” ($179.1 million) and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($166 million). And it would have easily been the largest December debut of all time if not for last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($247.9 million).
“Rogue One” takes place before the events of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” the film that started the long-running and beloved sci-fi franchise. The story follows a group of rebels tasked with stealing the plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon: the planet-destroying Death Star.
The story is one that devout fans of the franchise are familiar with, but it lacks notable characters such as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. So the fact that moviegoers turned out in droves to see the latest entry in the space opera, despite the absence of the aforementioned characters, bodes well for Disney’s plans to expand the universe with films that stand alone from the main saga.
“Rogue One” was generally received well by critics and audiences. It has a “fresh” rating of 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the popular review aggregation website, and moviegoers (66 percent male; 61 percent over the age of 25, per BoxOfficeMojo) bestowed the film with an “A” CinemaScore.
The film also did well internationally, earning an additional $135.5 million from 54 markets for a global sum of $290.5 million.
But believe it or not, there were other movies that played over the weekend.
Disney’s “Moana” finished a distant second with $11.6 million, bringing the animated adventure’s domestic total to $161.8 million through 26 days. Paramont’s holiday comedy “Office Christmas Party” settled into third place with $8.45 million.
The biggest disappointment of the weekend was “Collateral Beauty,” which opened to a meager $7 million. The low number is even more perplexing when you consider that the film stars acting heavyweight Will Smith, who plays a depressed advertising executive who has run-ins with the personified versions of Death, Time and Love.
Warner Bros. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” rounded out the top five with $5 million, bringing its total domestic earnings to $207.6 million. The “Harry Potter” spinoff also added $14.5 million internationally to bring its overseas cume to $510 million. The global haul of $717.6 million highlights the magical appeal of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.