Following the massive success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which are the highest-grossing movies of the past two years, it's practically a sure thing that Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be a massive box office hit. Still, many are wondering if this sequel will have what it takes to break the opening weekend record of $247.9 million, set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the first box office projections reveal that it will likely fall well short of that mark. With just under two months away before The Last Jedi hits theaters, these projections could surely change, but as of now, box office analysts don't think it can break The Force Awakens' box office record.
These first box office projections indicate that The Last Jedi will take in approximately $215 million in its opening weekend, and $742 million throughout its domestic box office run. If this projection is valid, The Last Jedi will have the second highest opening weekend total in box office history, behind The Force Awakens, while its domestic total would end up as the third-highest ever, behind Avatar ($760.5 million) and The Force Awakens ($936.6 million). While this projection may be surprising, it actually falls in line with a pattern that has been established with both of the previous Star Wars trilogies.
Back in 1977, the original Star Wars Movie, A New Hope, earned an impressive $307.2 million during its original theatrical run, with a lifetime total of $460.9 million including the Special Edition theatrical release. The 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back, while considered by many fans to be the best of the original trilogy, suffered quite a considerable drop, earning $209.3 million in theaters, with a lifetime total of $290.4 million. The final installment of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi, rebounded a bit, but it still didn't surpass the first movie, taking in $252.5 million from the original run, with a lifetime total of $309.3 million.
The prequel trilogy followed the same pattern, with the divisive 1999 film The Phantom Menace, the first Star Wars movie in 16 years, becoming a huge hit, despite plenty of negative fan reaction, largely focused on the child actor who played the young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, and the universally-hated character Jar Jar Binks. The Phantom Menace earned $431 million in its initial run, with the second prequel movie, Attack of the Clones, dropping quite a bit to $302.1 million, while the trilogy finale, Revenge of the Sith, took in $380.2 million. It's very possible that this same downward trend for the second movie in each Star Wars trilogy could continue, with the third movie rebounding a bit, but not to the same level as the first movie.
One reason that may account for this movie's decline are the longstanding rumors that this story is quite similar to Empire Strikes Back, much like how many fans criticized The Force Awakens for being too similar to A New Hope. Since there is still so much we don't know about the story, we likely won't know for sure how similar The Last Jedi is to The Empire Strikes Back until this movie hits theaters on December 15. Hopefully we'll find out more about this highly-anticipated movie over the next two months. These box office projections from Pro.BoxOffice.com are the first to come in, but hopefully we'll have more projections soon.