INTERNATIONAL - “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is on track to be one of the worst-reviewed films in the nine-picture saga.
The latest installment of the series has received positive reviews from 58% of critics tracked by aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Only “Phantom Menace,” released in 1999, received a worse rating -- at 53%. The site had posted 225 reviews as of Thursday morning, including from 46 top critics at news organizations.
Commentators who found the film underwhelming pointed to a number of problems: It answered some of the same questions and themes of past movies, according to the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Nicholas Barber; it was dull, according to Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out; and Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich called it a “zombie.”
Walt Disney Co. is counting on the movie to revive excitement around the Star Wars franchise, whose last installment, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” was a disappointment. The film, directed by J.J. Abrams, debuts this weekend.
The research site Box Office Pro estimates “Rise of Skywalker” will take in $170 million to $200 million in its opening weekend in North America. The Hollywood Stock Exchange put that number at $213 million, enough to rank among the top five debuts of all time.
Disney, which typically forecasts conservatively, said Tuesday it’s estimating the movie will open with U.S. weekend sales of $160 million or more. “The Last Jedi” took in $220 million in its opening weekend two years ago and went on to gross $1.33 billion worldwide.