Box Office: 'The Rise Of Skywalker' Force Grabs $40M Thursday Debut

Middling reviews may hurt Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the long run, but it didn't stop audiences from checking it out as soon as they could. Projections are the final movie in the Skywalker Saga earned $40M on Thursday night. Earlier estimates had it between $44M-$48M.  Either way, that's a good number Disney should be happy with, even though it didn't come close to threatening Avengers: Endgame's $60M record. It also trails The Force Awakens with $57M and 2017's controversial The Last Jedi at $45M.

Currently, JJ Abrams' second crack at Star Wars holds a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes, but holds a 76% approval according to exit polling by Comscore/Screen Engine. I think all of that is indicative of a movie that people feel is good, and does the job well enough. If this were almost any other franchise there would be concern of a major dropoff, but this is the final story of the four-decade-long Star Wars saga and everybody is going to want to see it, both die-hard fans and casual moviegoers. The numbers should bear that out over the weekend. If it lands anywhere between $175M-$200M we'll know it's on solid ground.

Interestingly, Star Wars continues to be of total disinterest to China. They just don't give a shit about the Force over there. The Rise of Skywalker opened with just $2.2M (!!!), and could be looking at a sub-$20M weekend total. It's been diminishing returns for years. The Force Awakens opened with $52M, Rogue One did worse with $31M and that was with Chinese superstar Donnie Yen fronting the marketing campaign. The Last Jedi trailed that with just $28M. Solo? Well, it didn't even crack $10M.