Has the force been strong with these other releases?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters this Friday, December 15, but it won’t be the only wide release of the weekend. Fox’s animated film Ferdinand will also debut, and it’s not the first film to serve as counter-programming to a Star Wars films, despite the franchise’s continued box office dominance.
There’s a long history of films offering moviegoers who can’t get into Star Wars screenings an opportunity to watch something else. While those movies have varied in genre throughout the decades, there’s almost always been some other alternative offering. Check out what those films have been, as well as how their box office openings compare to their related Star Wars releases, in the gallery below (numbers via BoxOfficeMojo:
While nearly every major live-action Star Wars film (we’ve omitted Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ theatrical release because of its unique place in the film canon. Instead we’ve stuck to live-action, major Star Wars releases) has ruled the box office in its debut, the franchise didn’t start out in first place. The original Star Wars opened behind Smokey in the Bandit in its debut, but the original film would go on to be such a phenomenon it grossed nearly three times as much domestically as Smokey.
Ever since then, the franchise has again and again proven its box office mettle, opening at No. 1 to varying degrees of success. But because the films have been such big draws at the box office, counter-programming has often played to the idea of who is showing up to watch these movies. Some other family friendly fare like Ferdinand or 2015’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, open alongside Star Wars movies to offer families another film to take their kids to in case of sold-out screenings.
Other openings have been more adult-minded films, ranging from raunchy comedies like Sisters to dramedies like About a Boy with a similar mentality about attracting adults who find Star Wars is sold out and simply for those who may just not be looking to catch a Star Wars film on opening weekend.
Whatever those opposing films may be, save for the initial release of Star Wars, they have often trailed the box office success of the franchise by dozens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. Ans that gulf has only increased with the recent films like The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the former of which saw the biggest opening domestic weekend of all time.
And the franchise’s box office dominance doesn’t look to end anytime soon, with The Last Jedi opening worldwide projections pegging it at above $400 million. And though Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars entry will soon be released, it won’t be the writer/director’s last moment with the series — Johnson will be shepherding a new Star Wars trilogy aiming to “go some place new,” according to Johnson. The Last Jedi director also recently spoke about his personal approach to telling a Star Wars story.
For more on the film ahead of its release, read IGN’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi review.
Jonathon Dornbush is an Associate Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter @jmdornbush.