The Force is strong with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as advance ticket sales tied to the Atom Tickets and Fandango platforms are suggesting that the movie may have one of the franchise’s biggest openings ever.
Per Deadline, initial reports from Atom Tickets indicated that The Rise of Skywalker made a huge splash in its first hour of ticket presales, outselling the all-time biggest opening of Avengers: Endgame by a factor of 45% in the same time frame. The top five for the first hour suggests that film is in good company, as it was ahead of the likes of – in order – Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Three of those movies opened above $200M. According to a survey held by Atom Tickets, the film ranks as the most anticipated for the rest of the year.
With this news comes a bit of caution, as sometimes ticket presales do not always reflect the final total. Solo, for instance, outsold Black Panther in its first few days, but presales dried up over time, resulting in a $100M total instead of the $140M or more that it was projected to make. Conversely, The Last Jedi was projected to make around $200M in a best-case scenario for its opening weekend; instead, that number rose past $220M. In all likelihood, The Rise of Skywalker will not outgross the record-smashing $350M+ opening that Endgame had, but it frankly doesn’t need to in order to be successful (presuming that the budget is proportionate with the other two films in this trilogy).
More good news for the film’s box office prospects arrived shortly after that initial report, as Deadline soon added that The Rise of Skywalker managed to top the first 24 hours of presales for other Atom Tickets hits such as Aquaman, The Last Jedi, and Infinity War; the film fell behind Endgame overall, which isn’t necessarily surprising considering that Endgame demand initially shut down a number of ticket-selling platforms for a good chunk of the day. (The Rise of Skywalker caused its fair share of demand overload, shutting down AMC for a time, and subsequently causing long queues for people wanting pre-orders.) With comparison to other Star Wars movies, the trilogy-finisher outsold 2.5 times as many tickets as The Last Jedi in 24 hours.
But Atom Tickets isn’t the only platform reporting good news, as Fandango is now claiming that The Rise of Skywalker has managed to outsell The Force Awakens on its first day, being far and away the best-selling Star Wars movie in the first two days. (How this compares to the two most recent Avengers films is somewhat unclear.) Fandango adds that the trend has continued through Wednesday, as the movie has been the #1 seller since Monday night. The movie represented half of all ticket sale for Wednesday, a figure that has thrilled Fandango. Their managing editor, Erik Davis, had the following to say:
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is blasting through all current and upcoming new releases, with massive presales on Fandango. Film fans are excited to see what’s in store for Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren and the rest of their favorite Star Wars characters in this final chapter of the Skywalker saga, especially with director J.J. Abrams at the helm.”
So, good news aside, what’s The Rise of Skywalker set to go up against this Christmas? Currently, it seems as if Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level will be the biggest competition, after the previous film in the series (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) proved to be surprisingly resilient in the face of The Last Jedi back in 2017. I personally believe that the third Jumanji film will likely be more front-loaded stateside, as the previous film had an advantage of releasing a week after Star Wars and legging out through January; here, the reverse is true, as it will instead release a week before, trading longer legs for a bigger opening weekend. Releasing the same day as The Rise of Skywalker is the CGI-heavy adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, and while reaction to the initial trailer was mostly negative for being unintentionally-unsettling, Universal are banking on adoration of the musical itself to buoy the movie forward. Musicals in general have seen a resurgence, with the past few years giving us hits like La La Land, The Greatest Showman, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Shorter running times for either of these movies may also help them, given that The Rise of Skywalker reportedly clocks in at just over two-and-a-half hours. While audiences aren’t opposed to seeing longer movies (as the record-annihilating opening for Endgame demonstrates), theaters prefer to get as many screenings of a movie in on any given day, so while Jumanji or Cats likely won’t draw Star Wars-level crowds, those movies will have more opportunities to play on the screens reserved to them. Other films of note that are releasing around the same time include Lionsgate’s Bombshell, Universal’s Black Christmas and 1917, and Fox’s Spies in Disguise (which is a case of Disney competing against itself). Nonetheless, an advantage that The Rise of Skywalker will have over The Last Jedi is that the second weekend will not fall on Christmas Eve, which usually sees a decrease in box office revenues compared to Christmas Day and other days in the holiday season, but will instead arrive within the post-Christmas window.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20, 2019.