‘Rogue One’ wins the box office, but should it have made more money?


‘Tis the season to go see all of the best movies of the year. I was planning on seeing Rogue One a few weeks after it opened, mostly because I wanted to avoid the major crowds. My idea was that I would go for counter-programming this weekend and I would check out a matinee of Nocturnal Animals. But there was a problem – I got a terrible cold and spent most of the weekend in bed, feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Still, my absence from the movie theater did not affect the box office at all. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opened with a massive domestic and international box office. Disney hoped for anything between $120-150 million in North America, and they got $155 million. Globally, the film earned $290.5 million. So, yeah, it’s a huge hit. But some analysts are raining on Disney’s box office parade because Rogue One didn’t open as big(ly) as The Force Awakens.

No news over the weekend could’ve been less surprising than the revelation that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — the first-ever Star Wars film to deviate from the main nine-movie saga — topped the box office comfortably. But at approximately $155 million, its opening presents a fascinating case study in the relativity of movie performance. $155 million is, without a doubt, a comically large amount of money, and it’s hard to qualify the performance as anything but a success for Disney and Lucasfilm. When we’re talking Star Wars, though — and particularly after the record-setting performance of Force Awakens last year — the more interesting question to be considered is: How big of a success should we expect?

Nobody imagined that Rogue One, which lacks any recognizable characters from the first seven Star Wars films, could come even close to The Force Awakens’ record-setting domestic bow of $248 million. Disney estimated an opening in the $120-150 million range, though some observers like Box Office Mojo went even higher, with Mojo mentioning a high-end possibility of $177-182 million. At $155 million, it did about 62 percent of Force Awakens’ business, delivering the 12th-highest opening of all time and the third-best of 2016.

But if you wanted to nitpick that result, you could start with the two movies it lagged behind this year: Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman. In the age of cinematic universes, you can characterize most tentpoles as belonging to one of two different categories: either the team-up megaevents that combine the threads of multiple different films, as in the two Avengers films and BvS; or the smaller, narrower movies that flesh out the universe’s characters, à la Marvel’s many different sub-franchises and DC’s upcoming Wonder Woman. Rogue One qualifies as the latter, making its gross more impressive than it would be were it Episode VIII, which is slated for next year. Comparing Rogue One to Civil War then (as well as to the other most-impressive non-Avengers opening — 2013’s Iron Man 3 and its $174.1 million box office), suggests that, while the Star Wars cinematic universe may have already proven itself to be the only sure-thing in blockbusters aside from Marvel, Star Wars might still be playing (just slightly) second fiddle to that brand. (Fortunately for Disney, it owns both.)

As for Batman v. Superman, which out-grossed Rogue One, its case suffers from being the kind of high-wattage event film that should be a billion-dollar earner. It topped Rogue One, but it should’ve topped Rogue One, and there’s a very good chance Rogue One will surpass it by the end of its run, both domestically and internationally. Rogue One also soundly beat Suicide Squad, a comparable release considering its similar status as an ensemble side-event to the main action, and it did so with fewer stars and less audience familiarity with the material.

[From Vulture]

I understand the analysis Vulture is trying to do, but I think it’s worth pointing out that Rogue One had NO movie stars. Felicity Jones is a fine actress and she’s been nominated for an Oscar, but no one goes to see “a Felicity Jones movie.” Same with Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna and Mads Mikkelsen. Fine actors, all of them. But no one goes to see movies just because they’re they are in those movies. People went to see Rogue One because of the Star Wars brand, so this was a test of the brand and I think the film did remarkably well. Especially since… you know, this was a female-led action-adventure-fantasy film. I worry that if we nitpick too hard, it will come around to “the film would have made more money if it had a male lead.” And that’s bulls—t.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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81 Responses to “‘Rogue One’ wins the box office, but should it have made more money?”

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  1. Erinn says:

    Work paid for us to go as part of our Christmas celebrations.

    I loved it. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, but I’ve seen them all at one point or another. I was 9 or 10 when the Anakin ones came out.

    But I loved this. I cried in the theatre behind my 3-D glasses, honestly. It was a GOOD movie. It’s great as a standalone, it’s great to go with the series. Felicity Jones was amazing, and I loved that they had such a cool female lead. I liked her better than Rey, to be honest.

    And Alan Tudyk gets all the love from me.

    • Jenns says:

      K-2SO was so great. My theater was cracking up every time he said something.

      • Erinn says:

        He was amazing. It was nice to have something so amusing in an otherwise kind of dark (understandably) movie. Apparently, some of his lines were improvised – Tudyk said that since he was a droid who said whatever came to his head, it gave him some leeway to just go with it.

    • NastyWoman` says:

      It was just “alright” to me. The action didn’t get kicking until the very end and it was dialogue intensive, which is kind of different from the other ones. And the central plot point didn’t make any sense to me. This is several centuries in the future, but people are still retrieving things manually? Really?

      • Megan says:

        That and a few other elements of the movie were Spaceballs worthy.

      • Lucy says:

        I don’t know about it being in the future, I imagine it’s some sort of alternative universe, like Game Of Thrones. I could be wrong, though.

      • Erinn says:

        Eh – to be fair – it’s a “long time ago, in a galaxy far far away” So I’m not so sure that it’s way in the future – just in a distant galaxy so far removed from us that they can give them all kinds of different technology.

      • Mia4S says:

        “This is several centuries in the future, ”

        Ummm, no it’s not. I mean, seriously?

        It’s “A Long Time Ago” (in a galaxy far, far away). 😉

      • Megan says:

        If you can develop the technology to travel faster than the speed of light, you’ve probably moved beyond hard disk storage. Just saying …

      • NastyWoman` says:

        *Sigh* Forest for the trees. At least Megan got it.

      • tealily says:

        If the plans were something that they were protecting, it makes sense that they would be stored “offline.” Believe it or not, even in this day and age, most collections in archives are not digital at all. I don’t really understand the whole broadcasting kiosk setup they had, but whatever. I didn’t consider it a flaw in the movie.

      • Grant says:

        I’ve always found the setting for SW to be a pretty interesting juxtaposition of the old and new. Clearly they have things like faster than light travel but if you’ll notice, they’re never using cellular devices, they don’t have social media, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any kind of TV broadcast or anything like that. In some ways, it’s almost medieval.

      • DesertReal says:


        I’m not sure if you saw any of the other previous SW saga, but it was clearly A New Hope prequel. It made perfect sense that a giant weapon could have such a design flaw- if the designer were sympathetic to another cause.
        And would be bizarre if sensitive information could just be hacked and downloaded just like….oh no wait.

      • Fire rabbit says:

        I think a certain amount of suspension of belief is in order to enjoy all these different story universes. Things are just the way they are in them. Same as HP, LOTR, Trek and lord knows those Marvel and DC universes. The human themes of love, war, despair, loss, hope are still all there, it’s the details of the different worlds that make them fun.

    • Jessica says:

      We loved it. And the almost seamless cut into A New Hope?! Yes, husband and I are decades long Star Wars nerds.

    • Abby_J says:

      I thought K-2 was gonna be the Jar- Jar Binks of the movie. Soooo happy I was wrong. He and the blind guy were my favorite characters.

  2. Mia4S says:

    What a bizarre, click bait article. i mean, huh? Avatar opened under $100 million, December opening weekends are a completely different thing. Christmas openings are about the multiple, this will make at minimum $100 million more than Batman v Who cares.

    These guys are going to lose their minds when Episode 8 opens lower than Force Awakens…and it will. That’s normal.

    Anyway, no spoilers but loved the movie….and marry me Diego Luna.

  3. Jenns says:

    It’s a totally different film than TFA. It’s dark. It’s a war movie. So I understand why it didn’t make more money.

    But let me just say that I LOVED Rogue One and I cannot wait to see it again. The third act is just amazing.

    • DesertReal says:

      Yes! I loved the movie, and I loved loved loved the third act.
      The last few minutes WERE. EVERY. THING.

  4. LaraK says:

    I think the movie worked because there was no superstar actor. Very much had the feel of the three original movies.
    Sometimes critics / analysts / etc just look for flaws.

    • tealily says:

      I agree. And I thought they did a great job of making it exist in the same world as those original films.

  5. boredblond says:

    Considering a big chunk of the country was in the deep freeze and under travel restrictions, I’d say this is pretty good

  6. mom2two says:

    I think it opened well for a stand alone Star Wars movie that did not feature known Star Wars characters or actors.
    And, while I have not seen it (hopefully I will soon), I have heard nothing but good things about it from those I know who have seen it, so I think word of mouth will keep this one going well at the box office for some time.

  7. grabbyhands says:

    I’m not shocked-it has numbers appropriate of a Star Wars movie that is a stand alone movie not featuring any familiar characters or for the most part (unless you were already familiar with them), actors. Of course some people HAVE to go with blaming the female lead-it was inevitable. The red state goons who were boycotting it because they thought it was anti-Trump will be all over this.

    I loved it. I thought it was a great stand alone, with just enough shout outs to the original trilogy to satisfy. Restrained CGI. Solid performances. The biggest criticism I can offer is that it needed some story/character development in some areas.

    And I thought it was extremely timely-it is eerie how much. It is the movie we all need right now.

    • Fire rabbit says:

      I just love how those red state whiners automatically identified themselves as being the Empire and not the good guys lol. I guess a classic story of good triumphing over evil is insulting to them. Guess our art and entertainment has to cater to them now as well(eyeroll).

    • teacakes says:

      yes, it’s REALLY eerie that this is the movie that came along for this moment in time. And it was coming for months, but the events of November have lent a certain urgency to my desire to see this.

      • grabbyhands says:

        Yeah, it was crazy and it felt like the audience was feeling it too. Especially when it got to (the following is not a spoiler-it was in the commercials) Saw Gerrea saying “Save the rebellion! Save the dream!” I was a little choked up, and it wasn’t the only time.

  8. Digital Unicorn (aKa Betti) says:

    Haven’t seen it yet but for. Those that I know who have, they’ve raved about it plus I think Diego Luna has just got a whole new army of female stalkers. Haha

    • Mia4S says:

      “I think Diego Luna has just got a whole new army of female stalkers.”

      Oh yeah, he’s definitely been added to the list of Internet boyfriends. His name kept trending on Google search over the weekend, which I found hilarious. I can’t judge anyone, I lost a good hour plus to his interviews on YouTube, he is alternatively adorable and sexy as hell.

    • Erinn says:

      Hahaha – I wasn’t sure if I liked him in the first little bit of the movie – he grew on me super quickly though. It’s like he kept getting hotter.

    • lightpurple says:

      I’ve been a Diego Luna stalker for years but he does look fabulous in this film.

    • Lucy says:

      Right? I don’t know why it hasn’t happened before, honestly. I guess Gael may have (unintentionally, of course) overshadowed him over the years. Now it’s his time to shine! 😀

    • tealily says:

      Yup, add me to that list!

    • teacakes says:

      I’ve been a Diego Luna stalker for the last 15 years but his movies rarely play in my area, you have no idea just how happy I am to get to see him on a big screen.

      I mean, I love Felicity so she alone would have sealed the deal, but throw in Diego and that’s what gets my butt in the seat for Rogue One twice in the space of 12 hours. I’ve never done that for any movie before.

  9. Rocio says:

    I watched it yesterday. My husband is a huge SW fan. I found it better than they one the did last year. I thought it was a perfect “liason”. Felicity Jones was great.

  10. Incognito says:

    I saw this movie over the weekend and it was so GOOD! I loved the characters and the story. The movie had rumors of how bad it was because of the reshoots, etc. And I’ll admit, I was worried and not excited to go see it at first because of those rumors. My husband was excited to go see it though and when the initial reviews came out, I was more encouraged. I think word of mouth is going to help this movie at the box office too.

  11. Deanna says:

    I liked it! The first half hour felt very slow to me, but it really picked up the pace and quality.

    My only critcism was that it felt a little crowded at times – I don’t think all of the ensemble characters were needed, even if they were enjoyable to watch.

    Riz Ahmed and Diego Luna were great!

  12. Hindulovegod says:

    Let’s not play into that MRA spin. It beat analyst expectations and had the fourth best December opening in history. And it hasn’t even opened in most of Asia, including China, yet. Rogue One is a hit.

  13. SusanneToo says:

    TFA had Han! And Leia! And Luke!, so no surprise it had a massive opening. I’m going to Rogue tomorrow, taking my daughter, my grandson and a friend of his.

    • iheartjacksparrow says:

      Exactly! Star Wars fans had been waiting 30 or so years to see the original characters together again so TFA was guaranteed to be a huge success.

  14. LP says:

    If it ends up making less than TFA, it would only be because it’s a prequel-it’s not the continuing adventures of Rey, Finn, etc. #LPshottake

    • Mia4S says:

      I have to admit I found Rogue One more effective as a movie than TFA. TFA had some great characters but the story and a good chunk of the finale action was, *shrug* meh. I am thrilled to see the universe expanding (although still not sold on a Han Solo movie).

      Rogue One will likely gross around a billion dollars. Massive for a new story. It will be interesting to see if that’s the ceiling or if these stand alones keep growing.

      • Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

        I have heard that as well – someone said that it had something TFA was missing, quality. They said that compared to TFA the acting was outstanding, the editing was better and the plot/story flowed better as well even with all the reshoots. He also said the female lead character was far better written and acted than Rey in TFA – said that Felicity’s experience made Jyn the kind of character than Daisy struggled to portray Rey as.

      • teacakes says:

        @Digital Unicorn – I actually connected more with Jyn even though I loved Rey too – there’s a world-weariness and cynicism to the way Felicity plays Jyn that works really well for that character.

        It’s a nice break from Star Wars heroine tradition to have the heroine be someone who’s already been a fighter and wants no more to do with it now (compared to Leia, Padme and even Rey who willingly joined/fell in with the rebels) – it’s the perfect background for the heroine of a film of this tone.

  15. lightpurple says:

    “Nobody imagined that Rogue One, which lacks any recognizable characters from the first seven Star Wars films”

    SPOILER – Not true! SPOILER

    I loved it. It was absolutely fantastic and I wasn’t expecting much. I dragged my 88 year old great aunt, who is a movie buff but hates the Star Wars franchise, and she loved it too.

  16. Cee says:

    I saw it yesterday and I loved it not only because Felicity Jones was amazing as a strong female lead, but this was also a war movie. This was about the allied rebellious factions trying to take down the Empire. Being strong enough to do something about it. It seemed more real that TFA. Take the fantasy out of it and this movie can be grounded to reality.

    • teacakes says:

      I loved how seamlessly it snapped into A New Hope (it literally ends what, minutes before the beginning of ANH, I had goosebumps by the end) but Rogue One is a war movie and even though it gutted me, I liked that they didn’t compromise on the fact that in war, people die.

  17. familard says:

    People seem to be making a big deal (positive) about Felicity Jones getting paid $1m. That’s not a lot for a movie of this size. btw/ I loved Rogue One but the die hard jedis I know hate it.

    • Mia4S says:

      The pay thing seemed to be Lucasfilm looking for good publicity since actress pay is a big issue. Kind of only a tiny piece of the puzzle though. The base salary is not where the big money comes anyway, it’s all about backend for her (and her co-stars). It opened over $100 million, they’ll get a bonus. Passes $500 million worldwide, bonus, etc. Plus a little merchandising payment. No one other than Harrison Ford is getting super rich on new Star Wars but even the newbies do pretty good in the end.

    • Gene123 says:

      I think the other big deal is she was the only actor in the movie to be paid 7 figures. Considering the daily discussion around pay gaps, it was a good gesture

  18. Megan says:

    I’m in the minority, but I did not love it. And I found brining an actor back from the dead to be terribly distracting.

    • DesertReal says:

      I enjoyed it that aspect of it.
      There were soooo many characters in the background (from A New Hope, Empire, & Jedi) that every few minutes I was squeezing my husbands hand or nearly jumping in my seat whenever I recognized someone or heard a familiar voice.
      The nostalgia factor was through the roof with this one & I loved every second of it…except for not using very much of the original score.
      That distracted the hell outta me.

  19. The Original Mia says:

    RogueOne didn’t have the same history as TFA. It would not have been expected by Disney/Lucas film to make TFA money. I haven’t seen it yet, but I cannot wait.

  20. Jean Gray says:

    It was ok. The characters weren’t well developed and I didn’t care for any of them really except Donnie Yen. The script was weak. The visuals were great but it really wasn’t anything near the levels of A New Hope or Empire Strikes Back which it was being compared to. Hardly. The character i ended up connecting to the most was the droid. If it wasn’t for the last 5 minutes of with that incredible scene with THAT guy, I would have been severely disappointed.

  21. Lucy says:

    Can’t wait to see it!!!

  22. Tania says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this movie since forever. I almost bought a Nissan Rogue One because of the Star Wars tie-in! I’m glad I held off on that purchase until after I saw the movie because I would have bought on pure emotion and not features I need (it doesn’t come equipped with auto lift gate and that’s a must for me).

    This movie left me with mixed emotions. Granted, I did see it the day after I spent the whole day travelling and the time zone change but there were characters I loved and it made me sad I won’t see them anymore after this! Like Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen were so ride or die and I loved seeing their friendship and dedication but, “No Tania! This is all you’ll get of them!”. Now I’m getting mad about that again.

    • teacakes says:

      I know how you feel. Tania, I’m gutted that we won’t be getting more of our Rogue One gang either. I loved them all, main and supporting players.

      • Erinn says:

        I’m hoping there will be a mini-series or something to come out of it, tbh. They could easily do a brief jaunt with a Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus story line. I’m obviously not holding my breath – but they could easily go deeper with it all.

      • teacakes says:

        @Erinn – I know Disney’s keen to cash in on known names, but I feel like Star Wars spinoffs probably work best when they’re like Rogue One – i.e. about new characters, not ones about whom we know every detail of their later lives e.g. Han Solo.

        The universe is big enough that they can play in it a bit more and explore the tangents as they did in Rogue One – I loved the fresh perspective, and now this is proof positive that Star Wars is still a great and compelling background for a story even in the absence of Jedi and Force users among the heroes.

      • lightpurple says:

        @Erinn, or what Jyn did during the time she was with Saw Gerrera and what she did after that landed her in that prison transport at the beginning. And Saw Gerrera. And Cassian’s story. And Bodhi’s story.

    • Mia4S says:

      While I don’t think the squad can appear again (aughhhhh!! 😢), I feel like there is a strong possibility we will see the individual characters or pairs again. For instance Baze and Chirruit would be great in a Jedi standalone (if the actor’s would play supporting again). Likewise Cassian and K2 are an easy fit for any bounty hunter/underworld type movies. I’d also bet good money we will see Cassian and K2 on that animated Rebels show. Comic books and novels too (for any of them!)

  23. AmericanPeanut says:

    Kaiser, I have to disagree with you, I’ll go see Mads in the theater any day! Have yet to see Rogue 1 but going Christmas Eve after family duties 😉

  24. Veronica says:

    My family plans on seeing it (my mother is old enough to remember the originals!), but it did release the week BEFORE Christmas, which is when a lot of us are extremely busy. It’s possible that might have affected it.

  25. BendyWindy says:

    My spouse made me see it. It was better than I expected. I’m not a big SW fan, but I did enjoy the Force Awakens. This one was good, I assume because of major rewrites and reshoots. A lot of the scenes from the first trailer didn’t make it into the finished film.

    I don’t want Disney to keep churning out SW movies because the quality will suffer. But it was a good movie, even though you pretty much know how it’s going to end. I will say that Felicity Jones, while a good actress, is not nearly as compelling as Daisy’s Rey.

    But I don’t think the movies need to be compared. They’re part of the same universe, but take place at completely different points.

  26. magz says:

    All the characters were great! I think Felicity Jones kinda annoyed me — maybe it was her lips– they were so distracting, but she kicked butt.

    I got super happy to see Donnie Yen who is the BEST!! He was so wonderful, did you guys hear he made up an new style of martial arts for the film?!! If you haven’t seen it yet, watch IP Man on Netflix.

  27. Elian says:

    I’m a diehard Star Wars fan since I was six, and I thought it was OK. I enjoyed being back in the SW universe, and I liked all the fan service, the music, the salty Droid and the action sequences. However removed from the Fandom and looking at it just as a person who went to see a movie? It…wasn’t a good movie. Zero character development. Choppy and awkward. Some really bizarrely awful instances of CGI. The last five minutes are truly thrilling, though.

  28. Harryg says:

    I have always found Star Wars really boring, can’t help it.

  29. Colleen says:

    Last year’s Star Wars movie was $hit. I reluctantly went to this movie just knowing it would be as bad as the last. To my surprise, I loved it. Great story with all the nostalgia, not forced.

  30. Prairiegirl says:

    Our family’s waiting for Christmas break, next week, to see it. It’s not like the film’s done making money after the first weekend; unlike a lot of films, this one will stick around in theatres for a long while.

  31. Reece says:

    I think Force Awakens had the push or thirst for lack of any good Star Wars anything for decades. Plus it’s direct like canon. Whereas Rogue One is not direct line canon (although they keep saying its not canon but it is very much canon). However RO will have word of mouth to sustain it.


    Personally, I think it’s better than Force Awakens. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people talk about lack of characterization, I would like to know exactly what movie are you looking for? The back story of all of the people involved is not necessary. The story is about how they got the Death Star plans, not how K-2SO was reprogrammed. I don’t need to know all of Cassian Andor’s history to know dude is BROKEN. C’mon!

    • teacakes says:

      Exactly! They have two hours in which to make us care for the Rogue One crew, and considering I was in actual tears by the end, I’d say they succeeded.

      I also think it’s better than The Force Awakens, and I loved The Force Awakens. I like how the callbacks and references fit seamlessly into the Rogue One ‘verse, instead of being presented with a huge TA-DAAAA! like TFA did its fanservice.

  32. teacakes says:

    huh? Should have made more money? Are they drunk?

    Disney has been drilling it into our heads for months that this is NOT an entry in the main Star Wars saga, it had all-new characters and no promise of any familiar characters other than Darth Vader to get people’s butts in seats….. and for a spinoff that is NOT the main Star Wars, it’s done spectacular business.

    The film itself got off to a shaky start and I’d actually have trimmed out Forest Whitaker’s part if I could, but once the crew is together and flying, it’s everything I wanted it to be. That final act and especially those last ten minutes, had me alternating between shedding tears and LOSING MY MIND at what I was seeing. Oh, and Felicity makes a fantastic action heroine, I loved her as Jyn. (also she and Diego have perfect chemistry, I kept wishing they’d kiss. Ditto Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen – I like how Gareth Edwards does maybe-relationships and potential relationships in here)

  33. Rico Shew says:


    I wouldnt watch it if it was playing on my f*#king eyelids.

  34. ichsi says:

    It was so good you all should see it!! But bring tissues!!!!

  35. Abby_J says:

    It wasn’t as good as the Empire Strikes Back (which is the best of all the Star Wars movies IMHO), and I think I liked TFA better, but this was very, very good. I won’t get into why, because I don’t wanna toss out spoilers, but it was very clever, given a lot of talk leading up to it. The ending was perfect.

    That said, the movie was essentially a 2.5 hour attempt to cover a HUGE plot hole in the original Star Wars. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but still. It gave life long Star Wars fans the answer to a mystery that plagued us for a long time. 🙂

    This is the first Star Wars movie my daughter has seen in the theater, and she loved it, but Jyn did not replace Rey as her favorite.