Winners and Losers: The Fallout From ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi”s Box Office Victory

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You’d have to have been living on Jakku or some other remote planet not to have predicted that this week’s box office winner would be the premiering “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

The only real suspense was: How big would it open? Early tracking had it at about $200 million, though anticipation built towards predictions of $220 million. And according to Disney estimates, that’s exactly where it debuted, at $220.0 million. That gives “Last Jedi” the second biggest opening weekend of all time, behind only the $248 million earned by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” two years ago.

Predictable as “Last Jedi”‘s box office victory may have been, there was still plenty of drama and plot twists on the weekend chart. Here’s who came out ahead and who was left behind in the red dust of rebel base planet Crait.

Winner: Disney

Duh, right? Well, there’s something to be said for doing everything correctly, capping off a 2017 slate that, with the release of “Last Jedi,” pushed the studio across the $2 billion mark in annual ticket sales for the third straight year. Chalk it up not just to unleashing the usual relentless and ubiquitous marketing campaign (was there a retail establishment anywhere in the galaxy that wasn’t hawking “Last Jedi” merchandise?), but also to making a movie that delivered what it promised to both fans and critics. The key, Disney Executive Vice President for Theatrical Distribution Dave Hollis told Moviefone, is offering a sequel that’s both familiar and surprising. “Last Jedi,” he said, “delivered an experience that is totally ‘Star Wars’ and at the same time unexpected, fresh, and new.” The familiarity brings in fans and general viewers, while the movie’s genuinely surprising twists generate follow-up sales. Of the movie’s tendency to astonish, Hollis sais, “We hope it’ll turn into a ton of repeat business.”

Winner: Social media

To that end, online chatter is more important than ever, Hollis says. When it comes to fans discussing the movie’s plot twists and reveals, Hollis says, “Last Jedi” is “amplified in that [social media] space in a way we’ve never seen before.” It’s also why business actually grew from $60 million on Friday to $64 million on Saturday, a pattern that doesn’t usually happen. “The weekend grew in part because of social media,” Hollis said. As successful as pre-sales were, there were still plenty of last-minute sales at theater box office windows on Saturday because social media chatter from Friday viewers “drew more walk-up business” the next day, Hollis said.

Loser: Sequel fatigue

That’s been the excuse all year for the failure of various high-profile franchise films. But audiences clearly aren’t tired of “Star Wars,” as is apparent from the fact that “Last Jedi” opened just 11 percent off from the record-setting debut of “Force Awakens” two Decembers ago and well ahead of the $156 million debut of spin-off “Rogue One” last December. No wonder Hollis isn’t worried about the release of the second spin-off “Solo: A Star Wars Story” just five months from now. Disney’s own Marvel Cinematic Universe series has proved that the market can absorb more than one installment per year of these mega-franchise movies. As he puts it, “‘Star Wars’ is everywhere. It’s such a deep part of the culture. The appetite exists, and there’s no worry about proximity.”

Winner: 20th Century Fox

Or should we say Disney (again), which formally announced last week its intent to buy Fox? The studio that distributed all six of the pre-Disney “Star Wars” films countered “Last Jedi” this weekend with the cartoon “Ferdinand,” aiming for an audience of very young children who are too young for “Star Wars.” It’s a strategy that’s worked for Fox in the past with the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies, and it worked as expected this weekend, with “Ferdinand” debuting with a solid $13.3 million, according to estimates. Will Disney continue to program against itself and play both sides of the fence if the Fox merger goes through? “It’s too soon to tell,” Hollis said.

Loser: Every other studio

Nobody else dared debut a new film in wide release this weekend, and who could blame them? Most holdover films saw steep declines this weekend; hopes that “Last Jedi” would draw people to the multiplex who would then go see other films if they couldn’t get “Star Wars” tickets proved unfounded.

You do have to give Warner Bros. credit for nearly tying Disney in market share for the year. Between the two of them, these studios raked in 40 percent of all ticket proceeds this year, thanks both to Warners franchise hits like “Wonder Woman” and one-off successes like “Dunkirk.” Even so, other Warners movies that should have fared better have not. It’s got to sting that “Justice League,” the studio’s big tentpole movie for the year, has earned less in five weeks than “Last Jedi” has grabbed in three days.

Winner: A few Oscar hopefuls

“The Shape Of Water,” which topped the Golden Globe nominations last week with seven mentions, enjoyed a modest expansion this weekend, from 41 theaters to 158, and was rewarded with an estimated take of $1.7 million, or $11,000 per screen. That’s a hefty average, but it’s on a par with the per-theater takes this weekend of “Darkest Hour” ($10,119 per screen), “Call Me By Your Name” ($16,398 average), and “I, Tonya” ($35,238 per venue). Aside from “Last Jedi” ($51,996 per screen), no movie did a better job than these of filling theaters. True, none of them, except “Shape of Water,” is currently playing on more than 100 screens, but these averages bode well for when these films expand into nationwide release in the coming weeks.

Loser: The rest of the awards-seekers

The season’s other critical favorites, including “The Disaster Artist,” “Lady Bird,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and “The Florida Project,” all seem to have peaked and saw drastic declines this weekend, even before most of them had had a chance to be seen by nationwide audiences. Most saw drops of about 40 percent this weekend, but “Disaster Artist,” which added 170 theaters to last week’s tally of 840, dropped a heavy 59 percent. The three-week old comedy still made an estimated $2.6 million, good for eighth place and a total to date of $12.9 million. But a movie that makes fun of another movie (“The Room”) for being a cult failure apparently has a natural ceiling, and “Disaster Artist” seems to have hit that ceiling.

Winner: Premium formats

Some 30 percent of “Last Jedi” sales came from theaters that made viewers cough up extra to rent 3D glasses. That’s a fairly high number, but it reflects Disney’s success in convincing viewers that “Last Jedi” was the kind of movie that needed to be seen in a theater, in the most immersive experience possible. Indeed, the movie did well from all premium formats, generating 11 percent of its sales from giant IMAX screens and another 14 percent from other premium large format screens. So, not only did a near-record number of moviegoers decide that they needed to see “Last Jedi” on a larger screen than they had in their living rooms, but one in four of those viewers decided they needed to see it on an even bigger screen than the standard wall at the multiplex.

Loser: 2017

For all of “Last Jedi”‘s success, including making this the biggest box office weekend of the year, it wasn’t enough to counter the months-long slump that plagued the multiplex throughout the summer and fall. The total box office remains 3 percent behind this time last year, and it’s not likely that the year’s receipts will catch up to 2016’s in the two weeks of 2017 that remain. Rey may be able to use the Force to lift giant boulders, but not even she has the strength to lift enough couch potatoes off their sofas to make up for all the doldrums of 2017.

Ian McKellen Wants to Play Gandalf in Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series

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“Gandalf is over 7,000-years-old. So I’m not too old.”

Sir Ian McKellen has not been asked to return as Gandalf in Amazon’s upcoming series adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. It’s possible they have no interest in bringing back Gandalf in what’s planned as a prequel to Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” But if they do have someone play Gandalf, Sir Ian would expect to be the first call.

McKellen was on Graham Norton’s radio show over the weekend, and Norton asked McKellen if it would bother him to see another actor as Gandalf. McKellen was appalled: “What do you mean, another Gandalf?” He continued, “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked. But are you suggesting that someone else is going to play it? Gandalf is over 7,000-years-old, so I’m not too old.”

Hear, hear! Sure, in a prequel you’d expect Gandalf to be younger, but they could make him younger with visual effects — or just leave him as he is. Who would complain?

According to Deadline, this new LOTR prequel series is being produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust; HarperCollins; and New Line Cinema, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which produced Peter Jackson’s blockbuster LOTR and “The Hobbit” movies. McKellen is already part of that franchise family. So … why not?

[Via: TheWrap]

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Kylo Ren’s Shirtless Scene in ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Did Have an Actual Purpose

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But, no, it was not a reference Adam Driver’s classic “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

It’s not really spoiling anything to say there’s a scene in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” where Kylo Ren is shirtless. It is however, a bit spoilery to share details, so…

*SPOILER ALERT*

In the scene, Kylo and Rey (Daisy Ridley) basically do the Star Wars version of late-night FaceTime, using a Force connection that allows them to both hear and see each other. That’s where the shirtless scene comes in.

Co-sound supervisor Ren Klyce tried to explain it to HuffPost:

“That was important to establish what she was actually seeing. Was she hearing his voice or seeing his face or just his eyes? And so that [shirtless scene] is to inform the audience, ‘Oh, she can see his body.'” He added, “It’s also good humor.”

Yeah. They could’ve established that Rey could see Kylo during the Force connection without him being shirtless, but then it wouldn’t be funny to see her ask him to cover up. And all the Kylo-Rey shippers wouldn’t have more fodder for their fan-fiction.

Fans definitely noticed the scene, and had a lot of fun with it:

I need to see more shirtless kylo in IX, JJ! 😂😍#reylo #rey #kyloren pic.twitter.com/Kso5qiaAXX

— Kylo Rey (@jediren_) December 15, 2017

can’t wait for the kylo ren shirtless scene pic.twitter.com/AJCq4fk08x

— Dana Schwartz (@DanaSchwartzzz) December 15, 2017

thinking about the kylo ren shirtless scene pic.twitter.com/hJIY9tj40b

— luis (@gaybensoIo) December 12, 2017

my sexual orientation is shirtless Kylo Ren in high-waisted pants

— priscilla page (@BBW_BFF) December 16, 2017

them: that shirtless Kylo Ren scene was so unnecessary

me: slave Leia

— 💀christina🍻🍜 (@passioncyutea) December 16, 2017

Actual photo of me when Kylo Ren had his shirtless scene. #TheLastJedi pic.twitter.com/zpO9MustbA

— lolo styles (@lauren_hemmo96) December 15, 2017

When I saw kylo ren shirtless pic.twitter.com/WAYhN0apYW

— Shannon (@Shannonm788) December 15, 2017
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” dominated the box office its opening weekend, even if the audience scores have been particularly low. Expectations were high, and some fans were disappointed in the plot and character choices. But other fans adored the film. It’s a polarizing one. We’ll see how Episode IX ties the storylines together as it ends the Skywalker saga in December 2019.

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Ed Sheeran Wrote a James Bond Movie Theme Song ‘Just in Case’

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So call him, maybe?

Ed Sheeran told RTÉ’s “Late Late Show” he’s actually had a Bond theme song ready for about three years now. He’s a planner. Or maybe he has the magic power to make his dreams come true. He recently did a song with one of his all-time heroes, Eminem, and already pictured how that would be before it happened.

Daniel Craig finally confirmed he will be back for Bond 25, his final James Bond film, and no one has said anything yet about the title, plot, or theme song. Considering Ed Sheeran is just a wee bit incredibly popular, they should consider checking out the song he wrote. He claims “It’s good,” which — of course he’d say that. But since most Ed Sheeran songs are pretty good, he’s probably right.

“With Bond, I’ve had a theme tune written for about three years, just in case!” – @EdSheeran on the #LateLate pic.twitter.com/MDA1GzVhmt

— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) December 15, 2017

Sheeran is no stranger to major film songs. He recorded “I See Fire” for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The most recent Bond theme song, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” for “Spectre,” ended up winning a (surprise) Oscar for Best Original Song. Adele’s “Skyfall” also won a Golden Globe and Oscar, marking the first time for a Bond theme song.

Bond 25 currently has a release date of November 8, 2019. So, if they do use Ed Sheeran’s song, it will have been waiting for its moment for five years. Just don’t give him another distracting cameo!

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‘A Christmas Story’ Bully Reveals How Much He Still Makes in Royalties

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I triple-dog-dare you to guess how much Scut Farkus still makes from “A Christmas Story.”

FOX aired the musical “A Christmas Story Live” last night — to mixed reviews — and it made a lot of fans nostalgic for the 1983 movie. Zack Ward played bully Scut Farkus in that holiday classic, and he talked to Page Six about how much money he still gets today in royalties.

“You’re going to be so disappointed,” Ward told Page Six. “It’s basically about $1,800 every two years … and it comes in in Canadian money because we shot in Canada.”

Why would anyone be disappointed? Can you imagine doing a job at age 13 and still getting payments for it at age 47? How is that not The Dream?! (For the record, at the current exchange, $1,800 Canadian dollars is equal to about $1,400 U.S. dollars. Still awesome for a job you did almost 35 years ago.)

Proving he’s nothing like the bully he played, Ward told Page Six he puts the money in a special account in case his mom needs it someday.

11th Annual Final Draft Awards - ShowWard said he still gets stopped in the street by strangers — even though he didn’t get to keep Farkus’ trademark hat — and he’s still acting, now living in the L.A. area. He has a pretty long filmography, and was recently in “American Horror Story: Cult” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Aside from acting, Page Six said he works with All Sports Market and Global Sports Financial Exchange, Inc. developing a sports exchange for fans to buy and trade shares of their favorite sports teams.

TNT and TBS are airing “A Christmas Story” marathon from December 24-25, in case you want to watch Ralphie beat up Farkus a few more times. At least he’s still getting paid for it!

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