December 23, 2019
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" may have won the weekend's box office, but the Skywalker finale couldn't match its recent predecessors on opening weekend. Still, it amassed a $175.5 million debut that ranked as the third-largest weekend of the year.
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker wins weekend box office but fails to match its recent predecessors
The Force was a little less strong with J.J. Abrams' latest film, which came in with worse reviews than any “Star Wars” movie except for 1999's “The Phantom Menace,” which famously heralded the debut of Jar Jar Binks. “The Rise of Skywalker” has a 57% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, too, were relatively lukewarm to the movie, giving it a B+ CinemaScore.
While Disney had cautiously estimated about a $165 million opening, analysts had predicted “The Rise of Skywalker” would rake in $200 million.
“The Rise of Skywalker” pulled in $374 million worldwide, according to studio estimates Sunday. The film was especially lackluster in China, where all “Star Wars” films have struggled. It grossed $12.1 million in the world's second largest movie marketplace.
Though it proved divisive with fans, 2017's “Last of the Jedi," directed by Rian Johnson, opened with $220 million and ultimately grossed $1.3 billion worldwide. Abrams' own “The Force Awakens” set a then-record in 2015 with a $248 million debut and sold more than $2 billion in global tickets.
With the coming holiday period, “Rise of Skywalker” is poised to dominate the year's most lucrative week of moviegoing. Cathleen Taff, distribution chief for Disney, called it a great start.
“With critics, we've seen that our movies have received lower scores than not but that they continue to do business because they're great quality movies for the moviegoer," said Taff. "Audiences are generally responding really positively to the film.
“The Rise of Skywalker” pulled in $374 million worldwide, according to studio estimates Sunday. The film was especially lackluster in China, where all “Star Wars” films have struggled. It grossed $12.1 million in the world's second largest movie marketplace.
Though it proved divisive with fans, 2017's “Last of the Jedi," directed by Rian Johnson, opened with $220 million and ultimately grossed $1.3 billion worldwide. Abrams' own “The Force Awakens” set a then-record in 2015 with a $248 million debut and sold more than $2 billion in global tickets.
With the coming holiday period, “Rise of Skywalker” is poised to dominate the year's most lucrative week of moviegoing. Cathleen Taff, distribution chief for Disney, called it a great start.
“With critics, we've seen that our movies have received lower scores than not but that they continue to do business because they're great quality movies for the moviegoer," said Taff. "Audiences are generally responding really positively to the film.
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker wins weekend box office but fails to match its recent predecessors
“We know that people are very passionate about ‘Star Wars’ and have very strong opinions about it. And we're fine with that," added Taff. "We think it's inspiring to see so many people who want to prompt a discussion around a film.”
Such expectations did not await Tom Hooper's adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Cats.” The much ridiculed big-screen musical, featuring infamous “digital fur technology,” scratched out just $6.5 million in ticket sales, sending Mr. Mistoffelees (and Universal Pictures) home licking their wounds.
The $100 million production, featuring an ensemble including Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, James Corden, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen and Taylor Swift, came in behind projections and opened in a distant fourth place. The movie drew an 18% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and a C-plus CinemaScore from audiences.
“Even modest opening in this extraordinary lucrative corridor can prove very kind to films," said Jim Orr, chief of distribution for Universal. He anticipates the film's strongest demographic — older moviegoers — will be most available over the holidays. "Our scores from those who are 55 and up are very good and very encouraging.”
Holdovers “Jumanji: The Next Level" ($26.1 million in its second weekend) and “Frozen 2” ($12.3 million in its fifth weekend) both surpassed “Cats.”
Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker wins weekend box office but fails to match its recent predecessors
“Rise of Skywalker” culminated a tumultuous period in “Star Wars," finishing off both a trilogy and nine-film cycle begun 42 years ago by George Lucas. In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion. While its stewardship of “Star Wars” has drawn enormous box-office proceeds, “The Rise of Skywalker" had its work cut out in trailing both the much-debated “Last of the Jedi” and the 2018 dud “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
In November, Disney chief executive Bob Iger told investors that “Star Wars” will go “into a hiatus” after “Rise of Skywalker.” The next “Star Wars” movie, which is to be set outside the Skywalker saga, isn't scheduled for release until 2022. “Game of Thrones” makers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently pulled out of planned “Star Wars” trilogy.
Lately, “Star Wars” has also been a hit on the small screen, too. “The Mandalorian” helped launch the Disney Plus streaming service. To make way for “Rise of Skywalker,” the latest episode of “The Mandalorian” debuted on Wednesday, instead of Friday.
But Disney can still make considerable demands on theaters for “Star Wars" films. Disney charges theaters 65% of ticket sales, or about 10 percentage points more than standard, for “Star Wars” releases, and requires a run of four weeks.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore, said “Rise of Skywalker” could only be painted by others as a disappointment because of the franchise’s and the studio’s extraordinary track record. The film will likely become Disney’s seventh $1 billion release of the year (a record) and give the studio seven of the top 10 films of the year.
“It's time to devote a lot of attention to the streaming environment for ‘Star Wars’ and then come back with a vengeance,” said Dergarabedian." There's a lot of lessons to be learned and certainly from this latest installment."
“Rise of Skywalker” helped improve the shortfall at the box office compared to last year, but ticket sales are still running 4.6% behind 2018, according to Comscore.
Below find estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," $175.5 million ($198 million international).
2. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $26.1 million ($32.6 million international).
3. “Frozen 2,” $12.3 million ($31.6 million international).
4. “Cats,” $6.5 million ($4.4 million international).
5. “Knives Out,” $6.1 million.
6. “Bombshell,” $5.1 million.
7. “Richard Jewell,” $2.6 million.
8. “Queen & Slim,” $1.9 million.
9. “Black Christmas,” $1.8 million.
10. “Ford v Ferrari,” $1.8 million.

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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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