FILE PHOTO: A fan dressed as Kyle Ren awaits at a gala screening of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” film in Cologne, Germany, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Star Wars” movie “The Rise of Skywalker” opened in theaters with $374 million in global ticket sales over the weekend as fans rushed to see the final chapter in the long-running film saga, distributor Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) said on Sunday.
Roughly $176 million of the total came from the United States and Canada, ranking as the 12th-biggest opening of all time in the world’s largest film market.
The massive ticket sales show “Star Wars” remains one of the few Hollywood franchises that can draw big crowds to theaters. But the results fell short of recent “Star Wars” films. The 2015 movie “The Force Awakens debuted with $248 million domestically and 2017’s “The Last Jedi” had a $220 million debut.
The domestic total also landed below early analyst projections of $200 million, but ahead of Disney’s more conservative forecast of $160 million.
Directed by J.J. Abrams, the new movie concludes a story begun by George Lucas in 1977 and centered around a young hero named Luke Skywalker. The latest episode, the ninth in the series, stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac as a trio taking up the fight against evil in the galaxy.
Critics have been divided on “Rise of Skywalker,” with detractors saying the plot was convoluted and unimaginative.
But many fans have embraced the latest chapter. About 86% of “Rise of Skywalker” ticket buyers surveyed by website Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie positive reviews.
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Lisa Shumaker