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“Star Wars” recovering? “The Last Jedi” has earned around $570m around the world

Chris MaccenroyDec 23, 20174 5851 vote +1 rating

With another over/under $34 million worldwide on Wednesday, “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” has now earned around $570 million around the world, including an approximate $280 million in North America. Barring a fluke, the film should end today with just under $300 million domestic and just over $600 million worldwide. How on Earth can the Star Wars franchise possibly recover from this monstrosity?

© Article’s author: Scott Mendelson.
© Source: Forbes

Star Wars The Last JediRian Johnson, who has been given a stand-alone Star Wars trilogy to oversee once the current one wraps up, crafted a film that has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews. Including a 93% “fresh” and 8.1/10 critic ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. It also has an 86% score on Metacritic and a 7.9/10 user rating on Oh, and the film received an A from Cinemascore and a 90 from comScore. My god, what will Lucasfilm do now?

But wait, there is more terrible news. It may have to wait until Friday to pass $300 million domestic and/or the global gross of Justice League ($637m+). At a glance, the film may end the second weekend with only over/under $400 million domestic and over/under $800m worldwide heading into Christmas Day. With the next full week of holiday business offering a slew of newbie competitors, the $250m+ sci-fi actioner may have to wait until the end of the year to cross $1 billion global.

Some of comments on the IMDb:

Is it a parody? There are some well written and comprehensive reviews on here already so I won’t waste your time in the details. Essentially, the entire first half of The Last Jedi feels like a Star Wars parody. Instead of the odd moment of humour every now and again, every scene AND character is a comedian in TLJ. It’s a crap gag a minute. And some of the great work done The Force Awakens to re-energize the franchise was just completely undone.

You know that incredibly significant and poignant moment at the end of TFA as Rey hands the lightsabre to Luke? Just wait and see what happens next. I’ve rated it 4 stars because the second half of the film does pick up but by then the damage is done. TLJ is a huge misstep in the franchise.

My god, say it with me now… can this franchise be saved?

I’m sure that the folks who flooded the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic user polls with negative reviews were real people and not robots or spam programs. But there is a rather high number of folks who apparently created an account specifically to offer a poor review of the newest Star Wars movie and then deleted the account. James Emanuel Shapiro did the hard work over at “Birth. Death. Movies” detailing that, of 100 random negative user reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, 94% of them either had no account or were first-time users. Of 100 random negative Metacritic user reviews, 72% of them were new users.

As James Emanuel Shapiro writes in his review: “The curious case of The Last Jedi and its Rotten Tomatoes audience score”:

Still, I randomly pulled 100 “poor reviews” (score of one or less) from both sites, and noted when they first started reviewing content and how many reviews they have contributed.

Rotten Tomatoes audience score

As you can see, there were a lot of respondents who signed up to review The Last Jedi and with Rotten Tomatoes, and a third of the respondents deleted their account or had their account deleted after registering. This suggests an effort was made to create a negative self-selecting bias because these new users chose to register with the site just to have their review counted in the overall Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score for the title. There are some other issues with these polls – there’s no guarantee that the respondents actually watched the film and there’s also the ability for the same unique individuals to vote multiple times, and I could see in my data pull the same review pop up a few times or the same name pop up a few times. I also noticed, but could not include this data since, again, neither site collected demographic information, that an overwhelming majority of the respondents had male names. An educated guess would be 90% or more.

Maybe they review-bombed as some kind of anti-SJW conspiracy (take a look at the downvotes on YouTube for the Ocean’s 8 trailer) or skewed revenge from DC fans over Justice League. Or maybe the segment of online fans who didn’t like the movie flooded the opt-in polling and thus created the impression of poor word-of-mouth. But every other measurement thus far (the reviews, the initial box office, the audience polling from folks who absolutely saw the movie, etc.) would indicate that folks loved or at least somewhat enjoyed The Last Jedi.

Some of comments on the IMDb:

The Last Jedi is so bad on so many levels! I don’t know where to start with this utter abomination of a Star Wars movie. It’s like Rian & Disney took everything that J.J. Abrams wrote and threw it out the window. There is no explanation who Ray and Snoke are and who were the Knights of Ren, Snoke is even killed off in the middle of the movie in a ridiculous way. The way they changed Luke Skywalker as a character is is just sad. All the hype where lukes blue lightsaber came from in The Force awakens was for nothing. There was not even a proper lightsaber battle in the end.

And yet, despite this perfect storm of pretty good press and rock-solid box office, the overriding narrative right now is “What went wrong?” or “How Star Wars can be fixed!” That we are discussing the controversy, even whether the controversy is genuine, means we are letting these folks dictate the terms of the conversation. This is little different than having a singular climate change scientist or singular pro-gun purchase background checks politician debating a singular opponent on the other side and then acting as if both sides have equally strong levels of support.

Some of comments on the “Rotten Tomatoes”:

Each of these characters finds a surprising connection to others, derailing plans and sending each person on an unexpected journey. The way Johnson orchestrates all of this is remarkable because it’s both coherent and compelling.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). IMDb’s User Ratings. For now 186.938 IMDb users have given a weighted average vote of 7.7/10:

IMDb User RatingsWithout discounting audience members (and critics and writers) who genuinely didn’t like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the user polling is a deviation from the narrative, not the backbone of the post-release narrative. Most folks thus far thought The Last Jedi was at least “fine”, just as they thought (for example) Spectre, Iron Man 3 or Star Trek into Darkness were “fine.” At worst, Star Wars is in a place similar to the James Bond franchise, whereby Spectre was hated by a number of folks and fans (raises hand) but still snagged $880 million worldwide and left the 007 series in a relatively healthy place.

Some of comments on the “Rotten Tomatoes”:

Its scattered pacing and tangled subplots doesn’t make The Last Jedi a failure, but neither is it a celebration – or more importantly, an elevation – of anything other than the legacies of the late Carrie Fisher, and justly revered Mark Hamill.

As always, the problems with the user polling from sites like Rotten Tomatoes or the up-vote/down-vote systems employed by YouTube are not the applications themselves, but how the media uncritically and unquestioningly takes those results as proverbial gospel or part of a wider truth without considering variables that might have skewed the results. Whether individually or en masse, the folks who hated Star Wars: The Last Jedi flooded the most visible opt-in polling site and single-handedly changed the conversation about a movie that otherwise was doing quite well. That’s not a huge deal, but it’s something to consider as so-called critical opinion becomes more democratized.

Some of comments on the IMDb:

So our resistant heroes continue their fight against the Second Empire. Not much really happens unless you consider killing off various characters significant. (Admiral Ackbar!) No real answers or explanations to any of Abrams ‘mystery box’ storytelling. Who’s Snoke? Dunno. Who’s Rey? Nobody. Long winded and filled with awkward humour (Luke milking a thing) and pointless adventures. (Finn’s trip to a space casino which ends up accomplishing exactly nothing) Filled with confusing story telling where characters turn bad (or good) and back again for no reason and people show up out of the blue with no explanation as to how they got there.

(How did Rey meet up with Chewie again?) Like Han in the last film Luke is really only in it to pass the torch and is just treated in an embarrassing manner. Strangely Leia survives and I’m expecting her to be written out in the opening crawl for the next one. These new movies are written in a TV variety style where characters and things show up for a round of applause and then go away. These new movies are more in the style of the Star Wars Holiday Special than the original movies. Frankly it’s just weird. The Harry Potter-esque final scene was the most Un-Star Wars scene ever...

The folks who pushed down the Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi scores didn’t necessarily game the system, but they did trick you and me by convincing us to look at the one shiny object that was different from all the other shiny objects. It was an effort to convince us that the exception was the rule. But The Last Jedi is, by every other measurement thus far, doing quite well and keeping its franchise artistically and financially healthy. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong for disliking it (I panned The Force Awakens), but that does mean that Disney and Lucasfilm have little reason not to be celebrating at the moment.

Some of comments on the IMDb:

Entertaining, but ultimately confused end! Very surprised that the critics gave this a thumbs up. It’s possibly among the worst Star Wars movies (including the prequels). It’s entertaining, for sure, but in the way David and Jerry Zucker films of the 80’s were crowd pleasers. This isn’t something you go home thinking about or affecting you when you go home, at least in a good way.

The problem as I see it is that it tried to tackle too much in one movie. Worst, it spent so much time on unimportant (and seemingly inconsequential) events and not enough time on the bigger questions that were left hanging from TFA. The story structure is a mess. The Finn/Rose subplot could’ve been totally removed, and the new characters introduced were a waste of time.

Characterizations were very inconsistent. Characters who had already grown in TFA (Finn, Poe) suddenly regressed for no reason. Major characters (Rey, Kylo, Luke) would make surprising moves without any basis or set-up, for the sake of surprise. In fact a lot of the movie can be said as favoring a "twist" happening at the expense of consistent character development. The prequel movies’ treatment of Anakin’s character development was a lot more satisfying, AND that’s a generally panned. At least the prequel movies’ story tried in earnest, TLJ did worst that just phoning it in.

As some movies have become acclaimed films over time after an initial bashing by the critics (e.g. Bladerunner), this one I believe will take the opposite direction. Here’s hoping JJ fixes everything with IX.

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