For the third weekend in a row Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker leads the global box office as it edges closer to that all-important $1 billion milestone. So far, J.J Abrams' trilogy (and saga) closer has generated more than $428 million domestically (and $470 million internationally) with $177 million of that coming from its opening weekend. An opening weekend that was noticeably below the $220 million The Last Jedi managed in 2017, or the $247 million The Force Awakens achieved in 2015.
It feels wrong to label any movie that will make more than $1 billion anything less than a massive hit, but I think it's fair to say that any Star Wars movie comes with a level of expectation. In part, the $2 billion success of The Force Awakens set the bar so high that it would be unrealistic to expect that rare feat to be the standard for the franchise. A year after The Force Awakens, Rogue One proved that even a prequel spin-off could spin gold at the box office grossing over $1 billion worldwide. Another year on the divisive The Last Jedi landed, and the difference in the final numbers was difficult to ignore.
While $1.3 billion worldwide is by no means unimpressive, it was a clear sign that the nostalgia factor that served The Force Awakens so well wasn't something that could be replicated. If the message was unclear, the shortcomings of Solo (arriving mere months after The Last Jedi) made Disney stop and rethink as all future Star Wars spin-offs were put on hold. The long-gestating Obi-Wan movie was retooled as a Disney+ series that will bring Ewan McGregor back to the franchise as the self-exiled Jedi Master. The first live-action Star Wars series recently finished its first season, and by all accounts, The Mandalorian is a hit with fans and critics. I can't add my two cents as Disney+ won't arrive in the UK until March 31st. Sadly, The Mandalorian comes to many UK fans pre-spoiled thanks to reckless coverage from those who have seen it already.
The future of the Star Wars movie franchise remains shrouded in mystery. Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi) was developing a new trilogy, and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss were also working on a separate original trilogy. Benoff and Weiss left after they landed a massive Netflix deal, but their rumoured Old Republic set trilogy could still move forward with a new creative team. At the time of writing, it remains unclear if Johnson's trilogy is still happening or when the next Star Wars film will arrive in cinemas.