HomeStandard PeopleRogue One: A Star Wars Story rakes in millions

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story rakes in millions

THE force returned this past weekend with the release of prequel spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which devoured $290 million in global box office receipts.

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English actress Felicity Jones (main picture) leads the cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
English actress Felicity Jones (main picture) leads the cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Of that amount, $155,08 million was made in the United States where it was ranked as the fourth largest December three-day weekend in that country.

As of Monday, just four days after its release, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had grossed $172,67 million in the United States for a global haul of $323,47 million.

The film is currently being shown to local audiences by Ster Kinekor Zimbabwe — who are keeping abreast with United States film releases as well as international ones. It opened locally the same day it did in the United States last Friday, but it locally got a lukewarm reception.

The film is the last major big box office hit of the year for the studio Disney and the fifth after Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootopia and The Jungle Book which saw the studio register its highest box office earnings in a single year with over
$6 billion worldwide. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is poised to push those earnings further up.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the eighth live action film entry into the huge Star Wars film franchise after 2015’s monster hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens which nearly hit the $1 billion mark in the United States with $936,66 million. Globally, the film went on to become the first non-directed James Cameron film to gross over $2 billion.

No doubt, the newfound popularity for the Star Wars film franchise is what drove Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to reach these very impressive levels off a reported $200 million production budget.

However, though the film will be looking at riding on the success of last’s year’s entry, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is actually a prequel to the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope released in 1977.

The story centres around an unlikely group of heroes who band together on a mission to steal the plans of the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

The story perfectly acts as background to the events at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope when the film kicked off with spies for the Rebel Alliance having been given the stolen plans of the Galactic Empire’s Death Star to bring them down. In the Star Wars franchise, the “Death Star” is a heavily armed space station capable of destroying an entire planet.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, had Princess Leia, the leader of the rebellion, played by Carrie Fisher who risked everything towards using the plans to fight the evil empire.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story perfectly shows just what was involved in stealing those plans while also showing the characters who stole the plans.

What helped Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the nostalgia of one of the most beloved Star Wars films, namely, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope since it was a precursor to the whole film franchise. This helped attract older audiences who watched the 1977 film.

To re-attract new audiences apart from the ones that saw last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it offered a completely new storyline, which is what kicked off the entire plot to the Star Wars trilogy which started with the 1977 film. It was followed by 1980’s Star Wars Episode V –The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s defining entry, Star Wars Episode VI –Return of the Jedi.

No doubt the action sequences, special effects, well-choreographed stunts, plot, characterisation, action set pieces and finally the plot-tying story helped boost Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s appeal.

Of course, with the entry of a well-established franchise movie comes the risk of any new movie trying to compete, in this case Will Smith-starred Collateral Beauty, failing to interest movie-goers.

Collateral Beauty is about a successful New York advertising executive (Smith) who suffers a great tragedy, which results in him retreating from life. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to love, time and death.

To his surprise, his letters bring unexpected personal responses which make him begin to understand how these constants interlock in a life fully lived and how even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.

The film’s premise was good and even had Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren as well as nominated actors Keira Knightly and Edward Norton, but it all ultimately failed to help the film’s box office chances. Will Smith’s performance was also good but could not compete with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It was like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The film grossed just a meagre $7,1 million over the same weekend from a reported 3 028 cinemas off a budget of $36 million. As of Monday, the film had grossed $8,02 million for a global haul of $12,92 million.

Despite the film’s lacklustre opening, this in no way means Smith has lost his bankability, a case in point being this year’s August release Suicide Squad that he starred in.

Hollywood executives always fall prey to this mistake — releasing a potentially good drama next to an enormous film that is sure to steal away most of the conversation. When a mega franchise is popular and in play, it is always wise to hold onto a potentially good drama to release it when the hype around the film begins to fade.

What also did not work well for Collateral Beauty is that they kept a story that needed at least two hours in running time to flesh out to just slightly over one and a half hours. Good dramas need time to be fully expanded.

In other news, raunchy film Christmas Party had grossed $32,98 million by Monday in the United States for a global of $69,91 million. Disney’s third biggest 3D animated release of the year,
Moana, had made $165,27 million in the same country for a global haul of $284,48 million.

Warner Brothers’ hit and spin-off prequel in the Harry Potter film franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them passed the coveted $200 million mark in the United States and by Monday had amassed $208,66 million from box office receipts. Globally, the film had made $718,96 million.

This weekend will see a film franchise hopeful, Assassin’s Creed released, with Ster Kinekor Zimbabwe expected to show it.

The film centres around Cal Lynch, played by Oscar-nominated Michael Fassbender who travels back in time to 15th century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the experiences of Aguilar de Nerha, a distant relative who’s also a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect freewill from the power-hungry Templar Order.

Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to battle the oppressive organisation in the present.

Assassin’s Creed is made off a very popular video game series of the same name and will be the first film adaption of the video game.

The film’s chances could either go two ways, the same as 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, or this year’s Warcraft which are also based off popular video games.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time went on to earn $90,75 million in the United States and Canada for a global of $335,15 million. Warcraft earned more globally with $433,5 million with its United States earnings lower with $47, 2 million.

One thing Assassin’s Creed already shares with the two films is the low rating from international critic website Rotten Tomatoes which has awarded it a paltry 24%.

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