‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.’

The ninth and final chapter of the Skywalker franchise had a gangbusters opening in Australia yesterday amid predictions the first weekend could deliver a stratospheric $450 million globally: $200 million in the US and $250 million internationally.

That would match the 2017 debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi but trail The Force Awakens’ $528.9 million in 2015.

Directed and co-written by JJ Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker raked in $6.4 million on a mammoth 1,059 screens on Thursday, according to Numero.

That compares favourably with The Last Jedi, which bagged $7 million on its first day and $21 million over the weekend and finished with $58 million.

By contrast, The Force Awakens clocked $9.3 million on opening day, $26.8 million in the first weekend and rocketed to $91.95 million.

Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi amassed $1.33 billion worldwide while Abrams’ The Force Awakens scored $2.06 billion.

The battle between the surviving Resistance and the First Order again stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd.

Joining the cast are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, Dominic Monaghan and Keri Russell plus Star Wars veterans Carrie Fisher via digital sleight-of-hand, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams.

The reviews have been mixed, reflected in the film’s 59 per cent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Nine’s Sandra Hall faulted the leaden dialogue and plot holes but concluded: “It’s a rousing, if frenetic and occasionally confused, finish to a series that has kept two generations of moviegoers company throughout their childhood and adolescence.”

Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers opined: “The result is often chaos, but it’s also a euphoric blast of pulse-quickening adventure, laced with humour and heart. Sure, you’ll nitpick the thing to death with your friends. But that’s the point. When it comes to Stars Wars fandom, the infighting is as crucial as the love.”

In the US Universal is counter-programming Working Title’s Cats against the Disney/Fox juggernaut this weekend. The Tom Hooper-directed adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is projected to earn $15 million- $20 million.

Universal launches the film starring James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson here on Boxing Day.

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