“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened with box office sales for its first weekend of $220 million. Even if ticket sales maintain a strong pace, it may not be able to catch the number one film of the year, “Beauty and the Beast.” The live action fairy tale movie took in $504 million after an opening weekend of $175 million.
“Beauty and the Beast” opened in 4,210 theaters. “The Last Jedi” opened in 4,232. All the top 10 movies of 2017 based on total ticket sales opened in over 4,200 theaters, so neither film has an advantage in terms of distribution.
“Beauty and the Beast” already has had its run in theaters. It opened March 17 and closed July 13. It has made its way to pay-per-view outlets like Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), where the DVD price is $23.95. The public will never know how much a movie makes after its left theaters, but in this case the number is likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The Last Jedi” could be lifted because it is part of a long-running franchise. It extends over 10 movies that have taken in $3.6 billion. The most successful so far is “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which had total ticket sales of $936 million. If the new movie can come close to matching that, it will eclipse “Beauty and the Beast” easily.
The two movies do have one thing in common. They were both distributed by Buena Vista, a studio arm of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). They have helped it become the top studio of the year in terms of market share. Buena Vista recently passed Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE: TWX) Warner Bros. as its market share reached 20.2%. The Warner Bros. share is 19.6% year to date. Ticket sales for “The Last Jedi” should allow Buena Vista to keep the top spot when the year closes.
It will be weeks before it is clear whether “The Last Jedi” passes “Beauty and the Beast.” However, it is almost a sure thing that they will be the top two films, based on ticket sales, released this year.