I’m not sure how anyone could be saying it might not break a billion. They’d have to pull it from theaters to accomplish that.
but given the recent history, and Abrams’ reputation, I don’t think many people expected a masterpiece. Hence, this outcome was not all that suprising to some of us.
If you look at the Tomatoemeter (i.e. the only “review” that matters for the vast majority of the audience), TROS has 53%, which is a massive drop off from the next lowest rated Abrams film (Mission: Impossible III, which also disappointed). Regardless of your personal feelings on TFA, that film was a mostly unanimous success, with a 93% rating. That’s a very significant difference from TROS. Even the flop Solo had a 70%.
There’s a difference between not getting overwhelmingly positive reviews and getting bad reviews. 53% is far outside the realm of what people have come to expect from things like Star Wars and Marvel.
Like I said, I think the film was better recieved by fans, and the general audience, than critics, many of whom viewed it as a capitulation to TLJ’s critics. In any case, I expected mixed reviews from critics, though perhaps a bit more positive than they were in the end. I didn’t believe anything other than it being a truly great film could push it beyond TLJ’s numbers. This coupled with waning interest in the brand led to my own predictions for this film.
If you look at audience ratings metrics, there’s only one where it surpasses TLJ (RT, where there was infamously a review bombing campaign). The most unbiased appraisal of audience reception is Cinemascore, where TROS got a B+ vs. TLJ’s A. That’s a significant drop off. I don’t doubt that general audiences aren’t as mad as people on the internet about this movie and think it’s better than critics do, but they also just generally don’t like it as much as the last two.