Long Range Forecast: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ & ‘Ferdinand’

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This week’s Long Range Forecast welcomes the addition of the year’s most anticipated film, as well as the latest animated project from Blue Sky Studios. Our initial analyses and forecasts:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Disney / Lucasfilm

PROS:

  • It’s Star Wars. The family component remains as strong as ever now that multiple generations of fans have embraced the new saga centered around Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron, and Finn. With Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker at the forefront of things this time around, and the late Carrie Fisher in her final role as General Leia, older fans will be eager to see their stories continue as well.
  • The film’s trailers have again excited die hard and casual fans alike. Twitter activity is comparable to that of The Force Awakens shortly after its October 2015 trailer release, while also coming in significantly ahead of last year’s Rogue One at the same point in the pre-release window.
  • Writer/director Rian Johnson is a highly respected and successful young filmmaker with creative credentials including LooperBrick, and several highly acclaimed episodes of Breaking Bad. His involvement and direct input into this chapter’s creative direction have inspired a strong sense of encouragement among fans about what to expect from the franchise’s continuation.
  • As evidenced by last year’s Rogue One, the enduring appeal and cultural impact of Star Wars continues to transcend other franchises as even its spin-off films without established, familiar characters perform at a level most series never reach at their peak. With another return to the core saga films this year, Last Jedi should again reach heights achieved by very few films — pending positive word of mouth and reviews, of course.

CONS:

  • It’s Star Wars. No, that’s not a bad thing, but it does mean expectations will be astronomically high. Regardless of general sentiment, there will always be some sect of the audience not as thrilled with the final product as others. The phenomenal run by The Force Awakens to become the highest grossing domestic film of all-time will inevitably result in comparisons to Last Jedi‘s box office performance. It’s an apples-to-oranges benchmark, though, given that this is clearly known to be the middle chapter of a trilogy. Presumably, this will provide the fewest “standalone movie” characteristics of the new episodes — ala The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones, middle chapters that became the “lowest” box office performers of the previous trilogies. As such, any suggestion that this film would have under-performed in the event that it falls well short of TFA‘s records and/or lifetime gross should be wholly ignored.

Ferdinand
Fox / Blue Sky

PROS:

  • Blue Sky Animation and director Carlos Saldanha have a strong track record with the past successes of the Ice Age and Rio franchises. Of the eleven films released under the studio’s banner, ten of them have gone on to earn $100 million or more domestically.
  • The strong ensemble voice cast led by John Cena’s titular character lends itself to parental appeal, a key to success when it comes to animated breakouts — particularly around the holiday season.
  • As the only other major studio animated offering through the holidays besides Disney/Pixar’s Coco, family crowds will likely gravitate toward this over Christmas and New Year’s.

CONS:

  • The character — based on a little known 20th century animated property — doesn’t have the built-in awareness among kids to turn this into a huge debut out of the gate.
  • Likewise, opening weekend competition is stiff (to say the least) as plenty of family audiences will be turning out for Star WarsJumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will similarly be aiming for family audiences when it debuts closer to Christmas.
  • While healthy in general, social media activity currently lags behind that of last year’s Sing — particularly on Facebook.

This Week’s Changes & Other Notes

  • Jigsaw buzz has stagnated somewhat in recent days. As we continue expecting the Netflix release of Stranger Things Season 2 to keep many horror fans home over opening weekend, we’ve our lowered expectations for the franchise reboot.
  • Suburbicon has yet to build traction across social media. The film’s mixed reviews heading into a crowded November also remain a concern.
  • Daddy’s Home 2 remains a candidate to perform fairly well, but the recent history of comedic sequels again plays into our reasoning for lowered forecasts.
  • Murder on the Orient Express is building steam (no pun intended) ahead of its debut as marketing begins to peak. Social media trends are very encouraging. This is definitely an adult-friendly counter-programmer to keep an eye on.

The 8-Week Forecast:

Release Date Title 3-Day Wide Opening % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total % Chg from Last Week Location Count Distributor
10/27/2017 Jigsaw $12,000,000 -20% $25,800,000 -20% 2,700 Lionsgate
10/27/2017 Suburbicon $8,500,000 -15% $27,000,000 -16% 2,000 Paramount
10/27/2017 Thank You for Your Service $5,000,000 $17,500,000 2,000 Universal
11/1/2017 A Bad Moms Christmas $22,000,000 $85,000,000 3,200 STXfilms
11/3/2017 Thor: Ragnarok $105,000,000 $269,000,000 4,000 Disney / Marvel Studios
11/10/2017 Daddy’s Home 2 $27,000,000 -10% $85,500,000 -10% Paramount
11/10/2017 Murder on the Orient Express $25,000,000 6% $94,000,000 6% Fox
11/17/2017 Justice League $150,000,000 $330,000,000 Warner Bros.
11/17/2017 The Star $13,000,000 $60,000,000 Sony / Columbia
11/17/2017 Wonder $16,000,000 $65,000,000 Lionsgate
11/22/2017 Chappaquiddick n/a n/a Entertainment Studios
11/22/2017 Coco $60,000,000 $270,000,000 Disney / Pixar
11/22/2017 The Man Who Invented Christmas n/a n/a Bleecker Street
11/22/2017 Polaroid $2,500,000 $7,000,000 TWC / Dimension
11/24/2017 Darkest Hour n/a n/a Focus Features
12/1/2017 (no films scheduled currently)
12/8/2017 The Disaster Artist n/a n/a A24
12/8/2017 Just Getting Started $8,000,000 $36,000,000 Broad Green Pictures
12/15/2017 Ferdinand $20,000,000 NEW $150,000,000 NEW Fox
12/15/2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi $215,000,000 NEW $742,000,000 NEW Disney / Lucasfilm

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