‘Star Wars’ Actress Suffers Major Blow After Box Office Flop

in Entertainment, Star Wars

Rey (Daisy Ridley) in TROS

Credit: Lucasfilm

After rising to new heights of international fame thanks to her role in the Disney-overseen Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, Daisy Ridley has struggled to replicate some of her past success in the film and TV landscape — and her latest project, The Marsh King’s Daughter (2023), is certainly no exception. With her new indie film grossing less than $1 million in its opening weekend, Ridley’s career could rely entirely on the performance of her upcoming Rey solo movie, which could either make or break the next chapter of the franchise.

Daisy Ridley at San Diego ComicCon 2015
Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

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Despite being an undeniable talent, it seems like London-born actress Daisy Ridley, in a strange sort of way, is still waiting for her big break. Of course, many recognize Ridley as the protagonist of Lucasfilm’s ever-divisive Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, in which she starred as scavenger-turned-Jedi Rey, along with John Boyega’s ex-Stormtrooper, Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron, and Adam Driver’s First Order leader, Kylo Ren.

Over the years, Ridley has built an impressive resume, finding early success in the BAFTA-nominated Lifesaver (2013) project and the British horror-thriller Scrawl (2015) prior to her Star Wars breakthrough. And while her first outing in George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) was both a critical and commercial hit…well, we all know how the story goes from here.

Daisy Ridley as Rey Skywalker in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

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Most would agree that Disney’s Star Wars Sequel Trilogy took a turn for the worse when Rian Johnson replaced The Force Awakens co-writer and director J. J. Abrams for the second installment, titled Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017). Upon its premiere, the film was met with instant backlash from fans, many of whom criticized its portrayal of legacy characters like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford).

Gone were the days of the happy-go-lucky Luke who led the Rebel Alliance to victory in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), replaced by a man wallowing in regret and living out his remaining days as a hermit on the distant planet of Ahch-To, despite the galaxy’s pleas for help during the rise of the First Order. His best friends, Han and Leia, didn’t fare much better, either — Han was murdered by his son, Kylo, in The Force Awakens, while Leia met her demise in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

han solo (left) and kylo ren (right)
Credit: Lucasfilm

As if it were possible, The Rise of Skywalker perhaps made things worse for Disney’s new chapter of Star Wars, with Rey’s final line, “Rey Skywalker,” going down as one of the most contested moments in recent pop culture history. While the Sequel Trilogy still has its staunch defenders, most fans consider it a stain on the Star Wars legacy — and even its main cast hasn’t seemed eager to return.

Isaac hilariously admitted that he would only reprise his role as Poe Dameron if he “need[s] another house or something,” while Boyega has flip-flopped with his answers, telling SiriusXM’s “Tell Me Everything” podcast in 2022 that he was “cool” with where Finn’s story left off in The Rise of Skywalker. However, after the announcement of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s upcoming Rey movie, the actor told TechRadar that he’s now made amends with Disney and his less-than-favorable Star Wars experience and is “open to all opportunities.”

Characters from Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker
Credit: Lucasfilm

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Boyega shared his willingness to return to the franchise right on the heels of Lucasfilm’s studio panel at April’s Star Wars Celebration Europe, when Ridley’s return as Rey for Obaid-Chinoy’s upcoming Star Wars movie was announced, along with other buzzy projects like Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” crossover event and James Mangold’s Dawn of the Jedi (TBA).

There’s been plenty of online chatter surrounding the Rey movie since its initial announcement, with many speculating about its plot, which will supposedly see Rey starting a new Jedi Order, its place on the canon timeline, and even its title, with Star Wars: A New Beginning being its widely believed name.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) getting into combat position to face Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on Pasaana in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Given the strong reactions to the Sequel Trilogy and the practically uncharted waters of the Star Wars franchise post-Skywalker Saga, it’s safe to say that the Rey movie has some high expectations to live up to. And aside from needing to please fans, many of which have lost trust in Disney’s handling of Lucasfilm completely, it might also have some high stakes for its star.

Ridley’s post-Star Wars career hasn’t been un-noteworthy by any means; Chaos Walking (2021) and The Inventor (2023) were met with generally positive reviews, while her non-franchise roles in Ophelia (2018) and Murder on the Orient Express (2017) are also fondly remembered.

Rey wielding a blue lightsaber as she listens to Jedi spirits star wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

But Ridley’s latest project, the Neil Burger-helmed The Marsh King’s Daughter, is perhaps her biggest misfire yet. Based on the 2017 Karen Dionne book of the same name, the story follows Helena Pelletier, a young woman who strives to protect her daughter when her cruel survivalist father escapes from prison. The movie premiered on November 3 and, so far, has had a dismal opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Per DeadlineThe Marsh King’s Daughter has barely been able to register at the domestic box office, becoming the fourth lowest-grossing overall movie of the year to date. The Daisy Ridley title didn’t even land on the chart, taking in a gross of only $849 thousand in roughly one thousand theaters across the US, overshadowed by blockbusters like Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023), Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (2023), and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon (2023).

Oddly enough, The Marsh King’s Daughter does feature a stacked cast, making its lack of impact on the box office especially curious. Garrett Hedlund, Brooklynn Prince, and Gil Birmingham, all of whom have impressive resumes of their own, play supporting characters. And Ridley isn’t even the only Star Wars alum to star; Rogue One‘s (2016) Ben Mendelsohn plays Jacob Holbrook, the protagonist’s father.

So, does the box office bomb of The Marsh King’s Daughter spell trouble ahead for Ridley’s acting career post-Star Wars? Well, not exactly. Every Hollywood star has experienced their fair share of ups and downs — especially actors like Mark Hamill, who risked being “typecasted” into the same kinds of roles before he eventually established a presence outside the franchise that made him an A-list celebrity.

Daisy Ridley as Rey in 'The Last Jedi'
Credit: Lucasfilm

One movie certainly won’t tank Ridley’s career. Still, her upcoming Star Wars gig could break her string of box office underperformers, as it’s basically a given that any Disney and Lucasfilm production will rake in millions. The Force Awakens still holds the title of the fifth-highest-grossing movie of all time, and her collaboration with Obaid-Chinoy could, if executed correctly, follow suit.

Ridley’s current woes are eerily reminiscent of another famous franchise actor, Tom Holland, who plays the titular web-slinging hero in Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man movies. Outside of familiar IPs, Holland has largely failed to achieve much of any critical success in his non-MCU roles, with his lackluster video game adaptation Uncharted (2022) and his more recent Apple TV+ series, The Crowded Room, falling flat with audiences.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man
Credit: Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures

Ultimately, franchise actors don’t owe it to fans to reprise the same roles over and over again, as playing the same character for so many years surely becomes tiresome. But there’s also no denying that major IPs tend to be big money-makers. So if Daisy Ridley wants to reclaim her crown at the top of the box office charts, Star Wars is almost certainly her best bet.

An exact release date for Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Rey movie has yet to be announced, but hopefully, audiences can expect to see it on the big screen sometime in 2026.

Are you hopeful for the upcoming chapter of Star Wars movies? Should Daisy Ridley’s Rey be the one to steer the franchise moving forward? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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