Given that your weekend was likely dominated by a tiny film called The Last Jedi, your news round-up is today garlanded with a very special Star Wars theme. Here are your must-read stories:
The Last Jedi posts the second-biggest USA opening weekend of all time
According to figures from BBC news, Rian Johnson's Star Wars epic has scooped an intergalactic $450 million at the global box office during its opening weekend. That would probably barely cover the First Order's catering bill but it's tremendous news for Disney and Lucasfilm, and further proof that Star Wars has the ability to conquer the box office like few other franchises.
To put that in further context, it's the second largest domestic opening weekend of all time, having made its bow to the tune of $220m in the USA and Canada, trailing just 11% behind that of The Force Awakens in 2015 , which opened to $247.9 million. The Last Jedi has, however, overtaken the domestic openings of Jurassic World ($208m) and Avengers Assemble ($207m).
Breaking it down further, Box Office Mojo reports The Last Jedi made a further $230m in overseas markets. Its international total of $450m places fifth, behind The Fate of the Furious ($541m), The Force Awakens ($529m), Jurassic World ($525m), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($483m).
Moreover, it's also posted the biggest UK opening weekend of the year, grossing a mighty £28m. That gives the movie the third-biggest UK opening of all time behind The Force Awakens’ $50.5m (£33.9m) and Spectre’s $61.5m (£41.3m),
The Force Awakens went on to take over $2 billion during its theatrical run and given The Last Jedi's barnstorming debut and rave reviews, we'd expect it to at least equal its predecessor. The Force is definitely with the franchise as we next anticipate the release of Episode IX in 2019 and, before that, Solo: A Star Wars Story in May 2018.
The Episode 9 working title may have been revealed...
As you're no doubt aware, The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams is taking the Star Wars helm again for the ninth episode. Following the news that he has pitched his story idea to Lucasfilm, a report claims to have discovered the film's working title.
It is of course worth taking with a massive pinch of Crait salt (spot the Last Jedi reference), but fan website Fantha Tracks claims the title is Black Diamond. Their reasoning: they say the production company for Episode IX is Carbonado Industries (UK) Ltd, a Lucasfilm offshoot designed to handle production logistics here in Britain. And a carbonado is the toughest form of natural diamond, commonly known as a Black Diamond.
The website correctly deciphered the titles of The Last Jedi (which went under the pseudonym Space Bear) and Rogue One (Los Alamos) so watch this space. At the same time it's been reported that the aforementioned Solo movie was designed to be handled by Carbonado, not Episode IX, so this could be a complete red herring.
If true, what could Black Diamond be referring to? Fan theories please @Cineworld.
Mark Hamill's secret Last Jedi cameo
Luke Skywalker, the Force, blah, blah, blah... That's all been covered to death and, at the risk of spoilers, we won't delve any further into Mark Hamill's brilliantly tortured Star Wars return. But did you know that he actually plays another role in the movie?
He's listed in the credits as a character named 'Dobbu Scay' and although there's been no official confirmation (as yet), speculation is raging that he is the Canto Bight-dwelling alien seen feeding gold coins into droid BB-8. The name of the character is an anagram for The Last Jedi editor Bob Ducsay. On Twitter Lucasfilm Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo said the following:
I'll just say this - he's listed in the credits as the second role someone very prominent in the cast plays. :)— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) December 16, 2017
That doesn't exactly reveal very much, but in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hamill did let slip that he appears during the Canto Bight casino sequence.
"I said I’d love to do a CGI thing, and he said sure," Hamill recalls of his conversation with director Rian Johnson. "And I got to go to the set of the casino and see in detail 150 extras in jaw-dropping costumes."
Of course, that doesn't 100% confirm that he's playing the cackling space goblin thing, but given Hamill's revered voice acting abilities (he voices The Joker in the animated Batman movies), we wouldn't be surprised if it was him.
The Last Jedi contains an insane amount of celebrity cameos, including British royalty. Check out the list here.