At the same time, the film is still in excellent shape. When tickets were first made available at the end of November, Rogue One quickly became the top pre-selling movie of 2016, and currently ranks as Fandango’s second-highest pre-selling title of all-time (behind only Force Awakens). That illustrates the property is very much in high demand, especially after all the goodwill Star Wars 7 generated. Because of this, Rogue One is on track to have one of the biggest opening weekends of the year. The most current projections are in the $120 million – $150 million range. If the film reaches the high end of those estimates, it would be the third-highest debut in 2016, behind only Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Based on all the factors, it should easily get there.
Besides the positive reviews, Rogue One is also positioned in a nice window where it features very little competition. The only other wide releases this weekend are the Will Smith-led drama Collateral Beauty (which has been widely panned) and awards contender Manchester by the Sea, which is expanding to 1,203 locations. Neither poses a threat to Rogue One‘s prospects and could struggle to find an audience – particularly since multiplexes have a plethora of Star Wars screenings scheduled each day during the early part of its run. The bigger questions about Rogue One‘s draw loom in its second weekend, when it will face PG-13 genre pictures Passengers and Assassin’s Creed, but it should still remain comfortably at the top of the charts for an extended period of time.
Earlier this year, Disney smartly downplayed Rogue One‘s expectations, saying that from the get-go they never expected the anthology film to perform in the same ballpark as The Force Awakens. They understood that Rogue One‘s barometer for success was much different than its direct predecessor, and if it doesn’t make $200+ million in its opening weekend, viewers shouldn’t deem it as a “failure.” Rogue One is set up to be one of the highest-grossing films of 2016, and could very well challenge Finding Dory for the #1 position when it’s all said and done. Few (if any) films can rival what Force Awakens did, so Rogue One and even Star Wars 8 might be better indicators of the series’ box office prowess moving forward.
Our prediction: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story should gross $150 million in its opening weekend.