Whatever else Star Wars means—culturally, personally, cinematically—it also means money. Big money.
The phenomenon of Star Wars leads to the kind of rabid fanaticism that translates into piles of money at the box office. Even the maligned prequel trilogy, widely regarded as the three worst films in the franchise, was able to pull in mountains of cash in their opening weekends. In 1999, The Phantom Menace managed to pull in $64 million on its opening weekend (roughly about $88 million in today’s dollars), which paled in comparison to the opening for Attack of the Clones ($80 million) and Revenge of the Sith ($108 million).
That trend has only gotten better in recent years. The last two releases in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens and Rogue One grabbed $247 million and $155 million on their respective opening weekends. With the latest entry in the saga, The Last Jedi, now playing, theaters and studios are once again seeing green.
Experts have predicted that The Last Jedi will open with at least a $220 million dollar weekend, though some estimates have it closer to $250 million or above. And that’s just the domestic take. Globally, The Last Jedi could potentially rake in upwards of $500 million this weekend alone.
Anticipation and financial expectations for The Last Jedi are so high that even sports oddsmakers are taking notice. Not only are people making and taking bets on how much the film makes opening weekend, but you can also bet on who lives and who dies by the end of the movie.
You don’t normally associate movies with bet making, but that just speaks to how wildly popular the Star Wars franchise continues to be, even forty years after it first debuted on the big screen. A new Star Wars film ride into the marketplace on an unstoppable train of hype and it powers through (and over) the competition. With the wild success of The Force Awakens, you can bet that The Last Jedi will be making a huge splash at the box office this weekend, with ripples that will be felt, even in a galaxy far, far away.