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'Rogue One' rules weekend box office: More spin-off films on the way?

'Rogue' stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, who attempts to obtain the plans for the Death Star. The financial success of the film may strengthen Disney's belief in 'Star Wars' spin-off movies.

'Rogue One' stars Riz Ahmed.
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd./AP
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“Star Wars” fans apparently have no lack of faith in the franchise, as the newest film set in that fictional universe, “Rogue One,” catapulted to No. 1 at the box office this past weekend, bringing in $155 million.

“Rogue,” which opened on Dec. 16, has now achieved the second-best movie opening in December ever. The only movie that ranks above it: last year’s “Star Wars” movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Meanwhile, the Disney animated hit “Moana,” which opened in November, placed second for the weekend, grossing more than $11 million. The comedy “Office Christmas Party,” which opened earlier this month, placed third, taking in more than $8 million, while the new film “Collateral Beauty,” which stars Will Smith as a man struggling after the death of his daughter, came in fourth place, grossing $7 million. 

The new “Harry Potter” movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which originally opened in November, came in fifth, grossing $5 million.

“Rogue One” is set in the “Star Wars” universe but was something of a departure for those behind the franchise. While every “Star Wars” movie before this was part of one saga – every movie before “Force Awakens” was labeled by episode, making it easy to keep track – “Rogue” is a spin-off movie, centering on new characters. 

It stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, who along with her companions is attempting to obtain the plans for the Death Star. “Rogue” takes place before the events of the 1977 original film “Star Wars,” but after the 2005 "Revenge of the Sith," the third installment of the prequel trilogy.

The success of “Rogue” so far may mean audiences will see more “Star Wars” films that are not part of the central narrative. One, which will star Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover as younger versions of "Star Wars" characters Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, respectively, is already planned.

“The success of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ shatters any doubts that the world of Jedi knights, shadowy totalitarian governments, and bug-eyed aliens is much bigger than the saga of the Skywalker clan,” Variety writer Brent Lang writes.

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson suggests the success of “Rogue One” means the galaxy far, far away could look different than what viewers are used to in future films. 

“That ‘Rogue One’ was a relatively solid critical hit as well as a commercial success means that Lucasfilm might feel even freer to experiment with tone, style, and content in the saga’s upcoming spin-offs,” Ms. Robinson wrote.

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