After a strong domestic opening and respectable performances in a variety of key worldwide markets, The Last Jedi's theatrical run is beginning to dwindle, with some analysts projecting that the film will end its run at around $1.32 billion. The film has proven to be a remarkable success, yet that number still falls short of the projected $1.6 billion estimates from the film's early weeks.
According to Forbes, the film should score at least $1.31 billion before the end of its run, which would pass Frozen's $1.27 billion to become the eighth-highest-grossing movie of all time and place it behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The Last Jedi claimed the top spot of 2017 domestically, yet its international numbers landed it in fifth place for the year.
These slightly disappointing numbers can't be pinned on one specific factor, but many factors coming together to make the film stall out more quickly than The Force Awakens and Rogue One.
For starters, this is the third Star Wars film in three years, a franchise that previously only produced one film every three years. The Force Awakens marked the first Star Wars film in ten years and the first time we saw what happened after the events of Return of the Jedi. Rogue One offered audiences a different kind of story, one that was unrelated to the Skywalker Saga, exploring a key part of the Rebel Alliance's history in an encapsulated way. By the time The Last Jedi debuted, the excitement about Star Wars movies had dwindled.
The Last Jedi is also the longest film in the Star Wars franchise, featuring dark and mature themes, which may have taken away from even a devout fan's repeated viewings. Additionally, some of the most vocal fans of the franchise took issue with many of the themes writer/director Rian Johnson chose to explore, giving it the lowest audience score on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes of the entire saga.
One of the more surprising factors that pundits hadn't accounted for was the success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The family-friendly outing offered alternative fare for movie-goers, quickly passing The Last Jedi at the top of the charts in the weeks after the films' releases. Jumanji even managed to out-gross this year's Justice League, which was primed to be the crown jewel of the DC Extended Universe.
Another disappointing setback in the box office totals was the film's performance in China. With the original films only debuting in the massive market in the '90s, Chinese audiences aren't inherently connected to the franchise in the ways other countries are. With The Last Jedi being the eighth chapter in a saga, audiences were reportedly overwhelmed by the amount of mythology, opting to avoid seeing it instead of catching up on each entry.
Audiences will have to wait and see if Lucasfilm learned any lessons from The Last Jedi that could impact the narrative of Episode IX, which hits theaters on December 20, 2019.
The Last Jedi is in theaters now.