The Force Awakens (TFA) made more than two billion dollars, but it’s sequel, The Last Jedi (TLJ) will not even come close. Now, let’s be clear, The Last Jedi is a financial hit for Disney, a critical hit, and mostly a hit with general audiences. The film is projected to reach 1.3 billion dollars which more than covers its cost of production and marketing. Oh, and the toys and merchandise will likely triple that number. But, as we know, numbers mean a lot in Hollywood.
It’s still 1.3 billion dollar return on a movie that cost
somewhere around 300 million with marketing.
If The Last Jedi reaches 1.3 billion, it’ll mean a 700 million dollar drop from TFA. That’s the largest drop for a sequel in history according to Forbes. And why is this happening? Well, China isn’t happy, and TLJ is not the hit there that it is in the States. Of course, The Last Jedi still has some time in the theaters to go and will likely reach some slightly higher numbers. However, a 28 million dollar opening in China (less than TFA or Rogue One), has to give Disney pause.
So, what does this mean? Likely nothing. It’s still 1.3 billion dollar return on a movie that cost somewhere around 300 million with marketing. However, Disney being a corporate entity terrified by any dramatic shift like this might overreact. Will Rian Johnson get to make his standalone trilogy? It might be a risk because there is clear evidence of underperformance.
Most importantly, the Mouse will also need to figure out the secrets of what to serve the people of China to get their asses in cinema seats.
JJ Abrams will remix Star Wars back into a mindless juggernaut for the masses. He’s good at that. But will another Star Wars sequel reach or surpass TFA? In the world of mega-companies like Disney, you ALWAYS have to make MORE. Disney will need to consider the future of the franchise and how they want to approach it. Most importantly, the Mouse will also need to figure out the secrets of what to serve the people of China to get their asses in cinema seats.
It’s weird to say this about a reborn franchise that’s three movies in and more than four billion in revenue, but Disney must be scrambling. Consider that the House of Mouse already considers Solo a failure, and we’ll be back-to-back underperforming Star Wars movie. That’s no bueno.
So, what’s the answer? My wildly unpopular answer is to stop making Star Wars movies. Let the franchise age gracefully. Instead of spending 300 million for one movie, make six 50 million dollar movies inspired by Star Wars and create new pop culture legacies. But who are we kidding? Disney is going to ride this Bantha made of money until the legs fall off. Disney will make slight course corrections until they get it right or audiences truly leave this galaxy far, far behind.