'Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker' Delivers $175.5M Debut While 'Cats' Coughs Up a Furball
Disney's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker led the weekend box office, though there is likely to be a bit of pushing and pulling from analysts as to whether the film's $175.5 million debut is a worthy opening for the final installment in the now 42-year-old Skywalker saga. Meanwhile, Universal's Cats fell well short of expectations and appears to have already been left out in the rain.

With a $175.5 million three-day debut, Disney's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker delivered the third largest December opening of all-time. While the performance tops the studio's conservative, $165 million opening, many, including BoxOfficeMojo, expected the film to top $200 million for the weekend and the slide to $175.5 million is a bit below where expectations were just yesterday, when it appeared the film would open anywhere from $190-195 million after Friday estimates. The slide began following the film's opening day, which was pretty much on par with recent Star Wars releases, which saw preview grosses making up 44% of the film's opening day. However, it is the only Star Wars release of the five released by Disney thus far, to see the Friday gross make up over 50% of the film's total opening weekend, which brings into question what kind of impact word of mouth will have on the film's final gross.

While The Force Awakens and Rogue One saw multiples that came in at 3.78x and 3.43x respectively, The Last Jedi and Solo could only muster multiples finishing at 2.82x and 2.53x respectively. That said, the four previous Star Wars releases saw multiples averaging 3.14x, which would give The Rise of Skywalker a $551 million domestic run, which is hardly a small number, but it does show a downward trend for the brand following the massive performance for The Force Awakens in 2015. Of this weekend's audience, 59% were male and 64% of the crowd was aged 25 or older, all of which pretty much lines up with the last four Star Wars releases, though the film's "B+" CinemaScore is the first Star Wars film outside of 2008's animated Clone Wars to receive a CinemaScore outside the "A" range.

Internationally, Rise of Skywalker delivered a $198 million debut overseas from 52 markets, giving the film a $373.5 million global launch. Leading the way was the UK with a $26.8 million opening followed by Germany ($21.8m), France ($15.2m), Japan ($14.6m), Australia ($12.6m), China ($12.1m), Spain ($7.6m), Mexico ($7.4m), Brazil ($5.9m), Italy ($5.9m), Russia ($5.8m) and Sweden ($4.6m). The film is now open in 98% of the international marketplace with January debuts still set for Vietnam, Korea and the Philippines.

In second, Sony's Jumanji: The Next Level dipped -56%, bringing in an estimated $26.1 million for a domestic cume that now tops $101 million after ten days in release. The performance is significantly below Mojo's pre-weekend expectations, which were perhaps a bit unfair given the release of a new Star Wars film, but it will be interesting to see how Jumaji progresses over the next couple days as Christmas Day is one of the biggest movie going days of the year. The first Jumanji feature fared very well in the face of The Last Jedi two years ago and perhaps with the debut of Rise of Skywalker out of the way, audiences will again turn their attention to Sony's adventure comedy over the coming days.

Internationally, Jumanji added another $32.6 million from 52 markets this weekend, bringing the film's overseas cume to $210 million for a global tally that now stands at $312 million. The film will debut in Italy and Australia in the coming days, finishing in Brazil in mid-January.

Disney's Frozen II landed in third with an estimated $12.3 million giving the animated feature a domestic cume that now now stands at $386.5 million. Internationally the film's cume is now over $717 million for a global tally reaching $1.103 billion, making it the fourth largest animated release of all time worldwide, passing Despicable Me 3 ($1.035b), Toy Story 3 ($1.067b) and Toy Story 4 ($1.074b).

Universal Pictures

Landing in fourth position is Universal's Cats with a disappointing $6.5 million from 3,380 locations, ranking in the top twenty among worst openings all-time for a film playing in over 3,000 locations. Negative reviews for the film heading into the weekend were met with a disappointing "C+" CinemaScore from opening day audiences and the film continued to lose momentum from there. Internationally it opened in the UK this weekend with an estimated $4.4 million for a global launch just shy of $11 million. Cats expands next week in 37 markets including France, Australia, Germany, Korea and Mexico, and continues its international rollout through February.

Rounding out the top five is Lionsgate's Knives Out with an estimated $6.1 million for a domestic cume that now stands at $89.5 million. Internationally the film added another $6.4 million for an overseas cume that now stands at $96 million for a global tally reaching $185.6 million with January releases in Germany and Japan still to come.

Just outside the top five is Lionsgate's expansion of Bombshell, which took in an estimated $5 million this weekend from 1,480 locations, serving as the third new wide release this weekend to fall below expectations. In terms of audience, 62% of this weekend's crowd was female and 87% were over the age of 25.

In limited release, Amazon Studios debuted Invisible Life in just two locations with an estimated $8,364.

Next week gets off to an early start with two new wide releases debuting on Christmas day along with the nationwide expansion of A24's Uncut Gems. As for those debuts, Sony will release Greta Gerwig's Little Women and Fox will offer families yet another film to consider with the animated feature Spies in Disguise. On top of that, WB's Just Mercy and Universal's 1917 will hit limited release.

You can check out all of this weekend's estimated results right here and we'll be updating our charts with weekend actuals on Monday afternoon.

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