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‘Star Wars’ wins the box office with second-biggest premiere of all time

star wars: the last jedi review
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The long wait for the next Star Wars finally ended over the weekend, and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi didn’t disappoint critically or commercially when it landed in theaters.

The latest installment of the episodic Star Wars saga (as opposed to the spinoff “anthology” films that include last year’s Rogue One and next year’s Solo) raked in more than $220 million at the box office over the three-day weekend — good for the second biggest opening weekend of all time. The only movie ahead of it on that list was 2015’s franchise-rejuvenating Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, which debuted to $247.9 million and eventually went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time in U.S. theaters.

As for the critical side of the film’s debut, The Last Jedi was a hit with both professional critics and general audiences. The film currently has an impressive 93-percent positive score on professional review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 297 reviews. This puts it on par critically with both The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, which also has a 93-percent positive score. The only film in the franchise to receive a higher score is 1980’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, which tops the franchise’s critical rankings with a 94-percent positive score.

# Title  Weekend    U.S. Total   Worldwide Total 
1. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi  $220M $220M $450M
2. Ferdinand $13.3M $13.3M $19.5M
3. Coco $10M $150.8M $448.2M
4. Wonder $5.4M $109.2M $153.6M
5. Justice League $4.1M $219.4M $633.9M
6. Daddy’s Home 2 $3.8M $96.5M $157.5M
7. Thor: Ragnarok $2.9M $306.3M $841.7M
8. The Disaster Artist $2.6M $12.9M $15.5M
9. Murder on the Orient Express $2.4M $97.2M $297.9M
10. Lady Bird $2.1 $25.9M $25.9M

General audience opinion on The Last Jedi was similarly effusive, with the film receiving an “A” grade from ticket-buying viewers, as reported by audience polling site CinemaScore. For reference, both The Force Awakens and Rogue One also received “A” grades from audiences, while all three films in the Star Wars prequel trilogy received “A-” grades.

The critical score for The Last Jedi wasn’t nearly as high for user-submitted reviews on various sites, but with many of those sites allowing users to submit multiple reviews without verification that they’ve actually seen the movie, these grades are generally viewed with a fair amount of skepticism around Hollywood. As reported by Deadline, there’s at least one active campaign to weigh down the user scores for The Last Jedi using automated bots to submit negative reviews for the film.

The Last Jedi wasn’t the only new film to debut over the weekend, though, as the animated feature Ferdinand also premiered — and bravely so, given the competition — in theaters.

The animated adventure featuring a pacifist bull whose beliefs are tested when he’s forced back into the bullfighting arena earned a modest $13.3 million over the weekend, but also received an “A” grade from audiences. That grade could bode well for the film’s run in the coming weeks when schools close due to the holidays.

All the rest of the weekend’s top movies were returning films, and with The Last Jedi expected to dominate theaters for the next few weeks, there’s not expected to be a lot of change at the top of the box office. That hasn’t stopped studios from releasing a bunch of high-profile films in the hopes of appealing to holiday audiences, though.

Noteworthy films hitting theaters this upcoming week include the circus musical The Greatest Showman, jungle adventure comedy Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, size-changing comedy Downsizing, acapella series sequel Pitch Perfect 3, and Steven Spielberg’s timely journalism drama The Post.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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