KEY POINTS
  • "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" hauled in $176 million during its domestic debut.
  • The film holds a 58% "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • It also garnered $198 million internationally, bringing its global box office haul to $374 million for the weekend.
Chewbacca, Finn and Poe Dameron pilot the Millenium Falcon in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

Despite lackluster reviews from critics, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" hauled in $176 million during its domestic debut, the third highest U.S. opening in 2019.

The film, which holds a 58% "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes, also garnered $198 million internationally, bringing its global box office haul to $374 million for the weekend.

"Though 'Skywalker' opened to less than its two predecessors, the film is helping to spearhead a late year box office surge that has knocked the year-to-date deficit down to under 5% for the first time in months and, importantly, should have solid playability into 2020 and could become Disney's seventh $1 billion film released in 2019," Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said.

Notably, "The Force Awakens" had a $247 million opening and "The Last Jedi" garnered $220 million during its debut.

"The Rise of Skywalker" had a solid start to the weekend grabbing $40 million in preview showings, becoming the fifth-highest grossing Thursday night preview in U.S. cinematic history.

However, presales for "The Rise of Skywalker" began on Oct. 28 and it is likely that the vast majority of the Thursday night tickets had been sold before critic reviews were released.

For many critics, "The Rise of Skywalker" spent too much time fixing issues fans had with "The Last Jedi" and adding characters instead of exploring the ones that were introduced previously.

"'Skywalker' had one of the best openings December has ever seen, unfortunately it will always be compared to what it failed to do: match the box office prowess of its predecessors," Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations, said. "As a studio, you never want to see a declining fanbase, at any level, especially for what was billed as the closing of a saga. Truth be told, it's obviously still a really amazing opening, unless you compare it directly with episode VII and VIII. It will be valuable for the brand to take some time off, and recalibrate in the land of streaming."

Disclosure: Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, owns Rotten Tomatoes.