By Cody Roark
Despite the recent mixed reviews and critic scores, “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” had a big opening night at the box office over the weekend. Fans of the franchise in a galaxy far, far away can rejoice that the beloved saga is still strong with the force. The ninth film of the series blew the box office away by hitting $176 million in the United States and a whopping $374 million globally. On another note, one movie released over the past weekend was not the cat’s meow. The movie adaptation of the musical “Cats” only brought in $6.5 million in U.S. ticket sales and just $10.9 million globally. The producers can only hope that the film still has eight more lives to fall back on.
“Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” may not have matched up with the previous films of the franchise, though it is still one of the biggest releases of 2019. “The Force Awakens” brought in $248 million, while “The Last Jedi” settled at $220 million. A great start for the conclusion of the Skywalker saga regardless.
J.J. Abrams returned to direct “Rise of Skywalker” and has a great reputation with the franchise following the monumental release of “The Force Awakens.” That, combined with the die-hard fanbase the franchise has, is sure to have helped boost the numbers for the opening weekend. The movie walked away with a B+ CinemaScore from fans, definitely an upgrade from what was expected based on the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores.
Following the release of the newest “Star Wars,” Disney has had quite the year in movie debuts. Disney had six movies generate over $1 billion worldwide in 2019. This revenue pushed Disney to over $10 billion globally, making them the first studio to ever break that record.
“Cats,” on the other hand (or paw) did not see as much success. The movie did very poorly in audience reviews for those that did see the musical. The movie cost $100 million to make and the low figures for opening weekend do not bode well for film’s producers. The studio had hoped that the new digital fur technology, used to give the actors and actresses their animal-like appearance, would drive curious movie-goers to come see the film.
Musicals don’t always bring in the biggest numbers during initial release and Universal is hoping that may be the case with “Cats.” For example, “The Greatest Showman” only opened with $8.8 million and by the time the movie was out of theaters it had generated $174 million. The difference being that the original audience members gave “The Greatest Showman” very positive reviews, whereas “Cats” received a majority of extremely negative reviews for its debut.
This weekend brought wonderful news for devoted “Star Wars” fans and for Disney. Unfortunately, not so great news for Universal’s release of “Cats” or the fans of the original 1981 musical. Good or bad, this weekend was a big one for movie releases for sure.