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Why Disney's 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ still dominated the box office despite harsh reviews

Despite some disappointing reviews, “the force” is still strong with the latest “Star Wars” film at the box office.

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (DIS) finished off a strong opening weekend grossing over $176 million domestically, according to the latest figures from Box Office Mojo.

The results make it the third-highest film opening of 2019 and the fifth-highest Thursday preview in U.S. cinematic history.

However, the movie only hauled a total of $374 million globally, making it the smallest box office open of the trilogy following 2015’s “The Force Awakens” and 2017’s “The Last Jedi” — which each brought in $528.9 million and $450 million, respectively.

The New York Times noted that “Rise of Skywalker” had worse reviews than any other “Star Wars” feature since 1999 — it has a 55% score on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 91% for “The Last Jedi.”

Despite some harsh reviews —Disney’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ finished off a strong opening weekend with over $176 million domestically

“People are harsh on ‘Star Wars.’ The expectations are very high,” Fandango Managing Editor Erik Davis told Yahoo Finance's YFi PM.

“Especially [the film] being the conclusion of this ‘Skywalker’ saga that's been around for 40-plus years, I think people had high hopes that it would just come and destroy everything,” he added.

But “Star Wars” has a dedicated fanbase that’s enjoyed the franchise for decades and will likely see the film regardless of the reviews. Moreover, it’s hard to please such a diverse fanbase.

“Every single ‘Star Wars’ film people agree, they disagree, they fight over it,” Davis explained. “And we're seeing that more than ever, especially in the age of social media.”

And it’s not just social media that’s adding to the “Star Wars” craze.

The successful launch of Disney’s streaming service Disney+ came with its highly publicized flagship series “The Mandalorian” — which has received rave reviews from both critics and viewers alike.

“There's a lot of ‘Star Wars’ noise right now so people have to kind of climb through it, but they’re doing a really good job with ‘The Mandalorian,’” Davis said — citing the “brilliance” of Disney’s marketing around the series’ baby Yoda character, which has inspired everything from coffee mugs and toys to ugly Christmas sweaters.

“There are people that don't even watch that show, but they love baby Yoda,” he continued. “And I think that's what [Disney] does so well. They make you fall in love with their brands.”

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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