‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Soars, While ‘Cats’ Crashes at Box Office

Skywalker saga finale currently estimated for $195 million opening

Last Updated: December 21, 2019 @ 12:29 PM

Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is giving the 2019 box office one last enormous jolt. After grossing $90 million from 4,406 screens — including $40 million from Thursday previews — the Skywalker saga finale is now estimated to earn a $195 million domestic opening weekend, which would place it just above the $191 million openings of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and the “Lion King” remake for the eighth highest domestic opening of all-time.

Word of mouth for the film has been somewhat more mixed than Disney’s past “Star Wars” installments. The critics’ Rotten Tomatoes score, which topped 90% for predecessors “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” stands at 57% with “Rise of Skywalker.” CinemaScore polls have given the film a B+, compared to A for “Last Jedi” and A- for “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” On the other hand, Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score has a verified rating of 86% while Postrak polls yielded a 4/5 and 70% saying they would “definitely recommend” the film.

Reception has been far worse for Universal’s “Cats,” which has a C+ on CinemaScore and a 19% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Between the poor reception and competition from “Star Wars,” the Tom Hooper musical is projected for just an $8 million opening from 3,380 screens and against a reported budget of $95 million before tax incentives.

While a small contingent of viewers on social media have praised the film as a future cult movie experience akin to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the film isn’t showing the sort of early audience praise that made “The Greatest Showman” a surprise long-term hit despite its poor opening two years ago.

Lionsgate’s “Bombshell” is also opening below expectations in the face of “Star Wars,” having previously been projected for a $10 million wide opening and now estimated for a $5.7 million start from 1,480 screens. It sits just outside the Top 5 on the box office charts behind fellow Lionsgate release “Knives Out,” which is estimated to earn $6.2 million in its fourth weekend. “Bombshell” has two Golden Globe nominations and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 65%.

Meanwhile, the two big holdovers, Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level” and Disney’s “Frozen II,” are holding on well against “Rise of Skywalker.” “Jumanji” will have a 10-day total of $100 million after earning an estimated $24.7 million this weekend, a 58% drop from its $59.2 million weekend. “Frozen II,” which passed $1 billion worldwide last weekend, is nearing the $400 million domestic run of the original “Frozen” with $12.6 million in its fifth weekend, which would give it a total of $386 million.

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