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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is turning middling reviews into massive money

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
The Force will be with them. Always.
  • Jason Karaian
By Jason Karaian

Global finance and economics editor


If this is a “cause for concern,” then Disney doesn’t have much to worry about. The studio’s latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, made $347 million globally in its opening weekend.

That sizable haul was down from the previous two films in the long-running franchise’s latest trilogy. The Rise of Skywalker’s domestic box office, $176 million in North America, was down 20% on the opening-weekend takings from 2017’s The Last Jedi, and 30% from 2015’s The Force Awakens. Thus the mutterings of “concern” from some analysts, although they are measuring the latest installment against a very high bar.

The critical reception to The Rise of Skywalker hasn’t been great, either. Metacritic’s aggregate assessment of professional reviews thus far puts the movie at 54 out of 100, the worst since the widely panned prequels Attack of the Clones (2002) and The Phantom Menace (1999), at 54 and 51, respectively. This masks a wide spread of scores, as with previous Star Wars movies, with plenty of glowing reviews (including Quartz’s) among the middling ones.

Public opinion from moviegoers, as measured by user ratings on Metacritic, was roughly in line with the professionals’ subdued assessment. It doesn’t really matter, financially speaking:  The Rise of Skywalker is on pace to become Disney’s seventh movie released in 2019 that will top $1 billion in global sales, according to Bloomberg. Much of that will be collected in 2020, giving Disney a head start to a pivotal year in which it won’t release a Star Wars (or Avengers) film.

The studio is retooling the Star Wars storyline and will return in 2022 with the next movie set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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