Long Range Tracking: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Bombshell, and Cats

This week’s report welcomes the addition of one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of 2019 and two fellow pre-Christmas releases hoping to counter-program the Star Wars juggernaut.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Opening Weekend Range: $185 – 225 million
Domestic Total Range: $550 – 750 million


  • The Star Wars revival under Disney’s era has been a massive success. The Force Awakens broke the all-time opening weekend record (at the time) with $248 million in 2015 on its way to becoming the biggest domestic release of in history with $936.7 million. Since then, Rogue One and The Last Jedi collectively generated over $1.15 billion stateside.

  • Billed as the grand finale to the Skywalker storyline, fans are anticipating not just the conclusion of this current trilogy, but the entire episodic saga which began in 1977. While the franchise will clearly live on through other spin-offs, Disney is positioning and marketing this as a finale event for both die hards and casual viewers alike, and more of those fans are encouraged by the return of director/writer J.J. Abrams to the franchise after his successful work to resurrect the franchise with Force Awakens.

  • All three trailers released this year have generated measurable excitement, driving strong social media footprints as part of our long range forecasting models. When discussing potential grosses of this magnitude, it’s important to note that expectations are volatile on a scaled level and highly dependent upon ultimately reception and sentiment. That said, the average projection across all models indicates this will be another major blockbuster for the franchise.

  • Early ticket sales are remarkably strong, with similarities to Rogue One and The Last Jedi‘s upfront demand landing on point with our expectations. Worth noting is that comparisons to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame presales records aren’t particularly relevant given the different habits and trends of sales activity between the two franchises, as well as different on-sale time circumstances.

  • As a rule of thumb, Star Wars trilogies have developed an emerging pattern in the only two sample cases: the first film establishes major, benchmark-setting numbers and proves to be the highest grosser of its trio, the second film declines significantly and generates the lowest attendance of that respective trilogy, and the third film rebounds for a second-best performance. It remains to be seen if Skywalker solidifies that trend, but a strong finish to the story is more likely to result in that outcome than not.

  • With an opening closer to Christmas (five days before) than any of the previous films, some back-loading could be expected as many use the weekend for holiday shopping and travelling. In turn, and particularly if word of mouth improves upon that of Last Jedi, we expect noticeably stronger staying power than that previous episode in the days and weeks after Skywalker‘s first weekend.


  • Rise of Skywalker‘s biggest challenge will be to win back the older fan base put off by the previous two films — notably The Last Jedi with its divisive reactions. In the same breath, it will again compete with a Jumanji sequel — although this time around, Star Wars debuts after that franchise entry and doesn’t have quite as high of expectations to match relative to their respective circumstances before release two years ago.

  • Although largely considered a misfire simply because of its out-of-control budget, Solo: A Star Wars Story represented the exclamation point on a fear from fans that the franchise was beginning to become watered-down from the event-level storytelling expected from the brand.

  • Word of mouth is critical for almost any movie, but for a series where expectations are frequently sky-high, Abrams and Lucasfilm’s ability to do something fresh and simultaneously appease one of the most demanding fan bases in all of entertainment will play a pivotal role in this finale’s effort to recapture the kind of audience and box office magic it was enjoying just a few short years ago.

Opening Weekend Range: $5 – 10 million
Domestic Total Range: $30 – 45 million


  • The timely subject and demand for films driven by empowering female characters/actors could be a strong driver for success.

  • With an all-star cast led by potential award season nominees in Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, staying power should be strong through the holidays and new year.


  • As political moods continue to shift, it’s difficult to gauge widespread interest in a film whose controversies are fairly recent and don’t necessarily offer the kind of escapism audiences seek during the holidays.

  • Competition for female audiences will be notable around this time with Frozen II, Little Women, and Cats in play.

Opening Weekend Range: $10 – 20 million
Domestic Total Range: $60 – 120 million


  • The stage musical’s long history and fan base should be strengths, particularly given the star-studded ensemble cast and director Tom Hooper’s previous success with the adaptation of Les Miserables.

  • Musicals have enjoyed a box office renaissance in recent years thanks to the aforementioned Les Mis, The Greatest Showman, La La Land, Mamma Mia 2, Rocketman, and others. The holiday corridor should aid this pic like the former three among that group.


  • Initial social media trends leaned decidedly negative, unfortunately, upon the first trailer’s release earlier this year. While that isn’t necessarily dooming (Aladdin similarly generated mixed reactions via trailers due to questionable CG before breaking out at the box office this summer), there’s still reason to be cautious until measurable buzz begins to improve.

  • Competition for female audiences will be fairly strong around this time with Frozen II, Little Women, and Bombshell in play.

8-Week Forecast

Release Date Title 3-Day (FSS) Opening Tracking Range 3-Day (FSS) Opening Forecast % Chg from Last Week Domestic Total Range % Chg from Last Week Estimated Location Count Distributor
11/1/2019 Arctic Dogs $4,000,000 – $9,000,000 $6,000,000   $19,000,000 – $29,000,000   3,000 Entertainment Studios
11/1/2019 Harriet $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 n/a   $20,000,000 – $30,000,000   2,000 Focus Features
11/1/2019 Motherless Brooklyn $3,000,000 – $8,000,000 $4,000,000 -43% $10,000,000 – $20,000,000 -42% 1,250 Warner Bros.
11/1/2019 Terminator: Dark Fate $33,000,000 – $43,000,000 $38,000,000   $80,000,000 – $105,000,000   3,500 Paramount
11/8/2019 Doctor Sleep $20,000,000 – $30,000,000 $25,000,000   $75,000,000 – $100,000,000   3,900 Warner Bros.
11/8/2019 Last Christmas $15,000,000 – $20,000,000 $17,000,000 13% $75,000,000 – $100,000,000 11% 2,800 Universal
11/8/2019 Midway $10,000,000 – $15,000,000 $13,000,000   $35,000,000 – $55,000,000   2,900 Lionsgate
11/8/2019 Playing with Fire $7,000,000 – $12,000,000 $8,000,000   $30,000,000 – $40,000,000   2,700 Paramount
11/15/2019 Charlie’s Angels (2019) $15,000,000 – $25,000,000 $20,000,000 -29% $45,000,000 – $70,000,000 -29%   Sony / Columbia
11/15/2019 The Good Liar $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 n/a   $30,000,000 – $45,000,000     Warner Bros.
11/15/2019 Ford v. Ferrari $25,000,000 – $35,000,000 $32,000,000   $95,000,000 – $120,000,000     Fox
11/22/2019 21 Bridges $9,000,000 – $14,000,000 $10,000,000   $30,000,000 – $45,000,000     STX
11/22/2019 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood $16,000,000 – $21,000,000 $19,000,000   $85,000,000 – $115,000,000     Sony / Columbia
11/22/2019 Frozen 2 $115,000,000 – $145,000,000 $125,000,000   $420,000,000 – $520,000,000     Disney
11/27/2019 Knives Out $15,000,000 – $20,000,000 $17,500,000   $60,000,000 – $85,000,000     Lionsgate
11/27/2019 Queen & Slim $7,000,000 – $12,000,000 $8,000,000   $25,000,000 – $35,000,000     Universal
11/29/2019 Dark Waters (Expansion) n/a n/a   n/a     Focus Features
12/6/2019 PLAYMOBIL: The Movie $3,000,000 – $8,000,000 n/a   $10,000,000 – $20,000,000     STX
12/13/2019 Black Christmas $10,000,000 – $15,000,000 $12,000,000   $28,000,000 – $38,000,000     Universal
12/13/2019 Jumanji: The Next Level $66,000,000 – $76,000,000 $70,000,000   $250,000,000 – $300,000,000     Sony / Columbia
12/13/2019 Richard Jewell $10,000,000 – $15,000,000 $11,000,000   $60,000,000 – $80,000,000     Warner Bros.
12/20/2019 Cats $10,000,000 – $20,000,000 $14,000,000 NEW $60,000,000 – $120,000,000 NEW   Universal
12/20/2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker $185,000,000 – $225,000,000 $200,000,000 NEW $550,000,000 – $750,000,000 NEW   Disney / Lucasfilm
12/20/2019 Bombshell $5,000,000 – $10,000,000 $5,000,000 NEW $30,000,000 – $45,000,000 NEW   Lionsgate

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Alex Edghill contributed to this report

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