While Star Wars: The Last Jedi isn't tracking as well as 2015's The Force Awakens, its projected earnings are raising the stock prices of movie theater chains. Disney and Lucasfilm are looking at Rian Johnson's Star Wars installment to easily break the $200 million mark in North America on its opening weekend. J.J. Abrams' installment earned a whooping $248 million in its debut weekend and in comparison, Rogue One earned $155.1 million in its opening weekend. The Last Jedi stands to be the highest grossing opening weekend for the year, beating Disney's Beauty and the Beast live-action remake, which earned $174.8 million.
The Last Jedi is tracking so well for the end of the year that it has helped to raise the stock prices of movie theater chains across the board. AMC shares led all of competition, increasing nearly 5% to finish at $13.65. That's still far below where they began the year at $33.80, but the stock has steadily improved since hitting a 52-week low of $10.80 on November 13th. Regal and Cinemark trailed behind with raises of 5% and 2% respectively. In addition to The Last Jedi, Coco is also helping to end 2017 on a high note after one of the worst summer box office seasons in decades.
The poor box office numbers for the summer can come from a variety of different factors, poor reviews being one of the most prominent for this year and specifically the summer. Some of the big budget movies like Justice League have been getting negative reviews from critics and fans, leading to a lack of audience attendance in the theaters. Word of mouth travels a lot quicker these days, especially for hits like Andres Muschietti's big screen adaptation of Stephen King's IT and for movies that bomb, like Flatliners. Extremely positive and negative reviews move a lot quicker than mediocre reviews.
Adam Aron, CEO of leading circuit AMC said, "The weakness of the summer box office is not indicative of a long-term trend," but it seems like it very well could be with the rise of subscription services for movie chains. Aron notes that 2 years ago was a record box office year that rose at the end of the year as well. It's important to note that year was also the year that The Force Awakens came out, demolishing box office records at the tail end of the year, much like The Last Jedi.
Meanwhile, the marketing for The Last Jedi has ramped up in recent weeks, with some of the latest teasers detailing how the crystal foxes were created as well as new TV spots showing Chewbacca smacking a Porg. The hype train has left the station and it's hard to compete with a Star Wars movie at the box office, but there are still some hurdles left for Lucasfilm and Disney. Some of the smaller theaters are refusing to carry the movie due to Disney's strict screening process and it's one of the biggest holiday traveling weekends of the year. Regardless, The Last Jedi is still on track to tear up the box office and spread the wealth along the way. You can read more about the raise of movie theater stock prices via Deadline.