The Rise of Skywalker is doing severely worse than The Last Jedi. While the production budget for TROS was $13 Million more than The Last Jedi, its domestic opening weekend fell roughly $42 Million short of the previous installment. But that’s not all.
The domestic box office now for TROS now sits at roughly $192 Million less than its previous installment. The international box office now sits at roughly $289 Million less than The Last Jedi. As reported previously, The Rise of Skywalker now holds the historic record for the lowest box office in China for a Star Wars film. The worldwide box office for TROS is now at roughly $482 million less than The Last Jedi.
This information comes to us from the-numbers.com.
But the more interesting number is under the Theatrical Engagements. From the-numbers.com:
The Rise of Skywalker had 18,373 fewer theatrical engagements than The Last Jedi.
Now, the hysterical knee-jerk reaction to this will be, “That’s why it’s doing less than TLJ: it’s playing in fewer theaters! Imagine what the box office would be if it had 28K theatrical engagements!”
But not so fast. This is where not letting the past die, but remembering and understanding it instead becomes very helpful.
Readers of this blog may recall a story about theaters that chose to run Star Wars, and the practical extortion they were forced to comply with over the showing of The Last Jedi. From Scott Mendelson at Forbes:
On their face, Walt Disney’s demands on theaters concerning next month’s domestic exhibition of Star Wars: The Last Jedi are not that unusual. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, cinemas accepting the Rian Johnson sequel when it opens on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. will have to give Disney about 65% of the overall ticket sales and promise to keep the film in its biggest theater(s) for at least four weeks. That compares with 64% of ticket revenue and two weeks of “your best theater” exclusivity” for The Force Awakens two years ago. And unlike previous Star Wars films, this one comes with a penalty (an additional 5%) if theaters get caught breaking any conditions.
Disney is forcing theaters to agree to top-secret terms in order to show ‘Star Wars’
Exhibitors say the studio’s top-secret terms are the most onerous they’ve ever seen. But with falling ticket sales, many plan to play by Disney’s rules
Ignoring the terms carries an unusual penalty. If a theater violates any condition of the distribution agreement, Disney can charge it an additional 5%, bringing the studio’s total haul to 70% of sales on a movie likely to gross more than $500 million at the domestic box office.
The case of “The Last Jedi” highlights a perpetual but growing tension between the business partners who bring movies to the public: studios and theaters. Negotiations between the two parties have grown pitched as Disney has become one of the most powerful studios in Hollywood and theaters have lost leverage as box-office sales fall. Box-office revenue is down 5% so far this year.
Given that The Last Jedi had a massive box office drop in its second weekend and that it currently holds the record for the largest sequel to sequel box office plunge in cinematic history, and after the box office disaster of Solo, how many theaters said: “to hell with Star Wars?” Particularly if they would have been required to comply with the same “onerous” terms for showing the movie. And they are, according to Deadline:
Keep in mind that Disney is enforcing rental terms at 65% with a four-week engagement run, with play of the J.J. Abrams pic in the largest auditorium. If theater owners break these terms, they’ll be subjected to a 70% rental.
So we should also be asking, how much of Rise of Skywalker’s box office comes from the additional 5% penalty for not complying with these “onerous” terms? It’s like a mob boss charging the local cobbler for “protection.”
Now, we’ll have to wait for the Rise of Skywalker’s complete theatrical run to finish to see if it approaches 28K theatrical engagements, but I suspect it won’t climb up to much further.
It should also be noted, that even with far fewer theatrical engagements, Disney’s Star Wars still can’t fill up theaters on opening day.
Thanks to Bleeding Fool for the tip.