Strong first night for latest Star Wars but falls short of previous two films

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker trailer

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker released on December 20.

Plenty of force was with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on its first night in theaters, but it fell short of the two previous films in the trilogy.

The Rise of Skywalker brought in an estimated $40 million in North America in its Thursday night previews, the fifth biggest Thursday opening ever.

The first film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, earned $57 million its Thursday night previews in 2015, at the time the biggest of all time. It was topped by the $60 million take of Avengers: Endgame earlier this year.

The second film in the trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, had a $45 million tally on its opening Thursday night in 2017.

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The Rise of Skywalker, with The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams back at the helm after Rian Johnson directed The Last Jedi, didn’t appear to be affected by bad critic reviews. The film scored just 58% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 98% for The Last Jedi, but its fan score is 85%.

The third film stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and Carrie Fisher and is expected to bring in $200 million by the end of the weekend.