Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Forecast: 'Rogue One' to earn $150 to $190 million at domestic weekend box office

While many have lamented the death of cinema in 2016, I can actually say that I've had a pretty good time at the movies. There have been some excellent films this year, and many instant classics that I will treasure for a very long time to come. But there's no getting around this simple fact- 2016 was not as impressive at the box office was 2015 was. While last year saw the release of global mega blockbusters like Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, all of which topped $1.5 billion, this year's highest grossing movie thus far is Marvel's Captain America: Civil War with $1.15 billion. To further highlight matters, last year ended on a spectacular high note with the $2 billion gross of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but in 2016, expectations are slightly lower for our latest trip to a galaxy far, far away. As the first spin-off movie in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story features none of the main players of the saga, with the exception of Darth Vader, a few other minor characters, and select franchise iconography. Therefore, it's to be expected that this film will gross significantly less than the film that brought back Han, Luke, and Leia after over three decades. But the real question is this- how high can Rogue One fly?

Pretty damn high, if you ask me. The Star Wars brand has power, and the scary thing is that I firmly believe Disney will soon realize that if they slap that name on anything, it's an instant box office hit. Sure, not every Star Wars movie will perform like the saga films, but they don't have to do those numbers with every installment. Nobody quite knew what to make of Rogue One's box office prospects at first, but as the release date grew near, it became abundantly clear that this was going to be a juggernaut. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney's box office prognosticators are now counting on an opening weekend between $120 and $150 million, which is viewed as a safe estimate by those in the industry. Rogue One has a chance to climb much higher than that, as this is firmly considered to be the most anticipated blockbuster of the year. 

This may not quite have the same impact that The Force Awakens had last year, but theaters are still preparing for an onslaught of Star Wars fans at the multiplexes. When I stayed up until midnight on November 28th to purchase my tickets, Fandango crashed once again, similar to how the system malfunctioned a year earlier. My local Regal currently has 22 showings lined up for tomorrow night, which is a monumental number unparalleled by any film this year. On Friday, that number is beefed up to 53, which is simply enormous. Granted, they aren't holding screenings at 2 or 3 AM like they were last year for The Force Awakens, but there is still a growing sense of excitement surrounding this film. After plenty of skepticism due to rumors of behind-the-scenes trouble and reshoots, journalists emerged from the premiere with positive reactions, and the reviews have been very solid. The Rotten Tomatoes score currently stands at 83%, which is Certified Fresh by the website's standards. Metacritic is slightly lower at 65, but that still implies "Generally favorable" reviews. 

There have been plenty of box office hits and cultural phenomenons in 2016, but there has yet to be a true communal cinematic experience. We've been waiting for Rogue One, and now that it sounds like the movie delivers on its promise of an intense, fun standalone Star Wars movie, the money is just gonna start rolling in. I'm going big on my box office prediction for Rogue One- I'm saying $185 million, enough to firmly surpass expectations and stand as the highest opening weekend of the year. Massive Thursday and Friday numbers will lead to a slight downturn on Saturday and Sunday, before Rogue One breaks through as the must-see movie over the holiday frame. My prediction is high, but it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Look for more on Rogue One's box office, as well as a review for the film in the coming days. 

Image Credits: Coming SoonJoblo

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