It's hard to believe that it was almost a year ago that "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" was released in theaters. After all, the film was one of the biggest cultural events of the 21st century! Its monumental arrival was basically the sum total of years upon years of unprecedented levels of speculation, hype, and mystery. Again, I can't stress this enough, we're talking about years here, and now it's practically already old news. But that's just how things work in today's digital age,

So much time and build up was devoted to this release, but it all seems kind of bizarre now, especially when you remember that it's just 130 minutes long.

Granted it was a fantastic 130 minutes, but doesn't that seem a little disproportionate?

Many people probably re-watched that first teaser enough times for it to surpass the actual run-time of the finished product!

'Rogue One' - long awaited return to 'Star Wars'

Of course, the cartoonish levels of excitement were hardly surprising, after all, we're talking about "Star Wars" here! More specifically, we're talking about "Star Wars" grandstanding comeback. Until Disney announced a new trilogy of cinematic 'episodes', back in 2012 we were all convinced that we'd seen the last of a galaxy far, far away (at least as far as the big screen was concerned). Not only that but our last foray into George Lucas' universe (the often maligned prequel trilogy) had left a rather bad taste in the mouth.

As a result, Episode VII was more than just a belated return for the franchise, it was also a chance for meaningful redemption.

So the accompanying hype is easily understandable, and I will confess that I was just as guilty of committing to it as anyone else was. And of course, we shouldn't take the film's mammoth success for granted.

$2 billion is a staggering gross for any film, 'Star Wars' or not. Having said that, this was still the franchise's bold and long-awaited return to screens. It was always gonna be a hit.

Will 'Rogue One' reach the other 'Star Wars' popularity?

What remained to be seen (and to an extent, still remains to be seen) is just how well the spin-off/ anthology installments in the franchise will perform.

Whilst it is likely safe to assume that the answer is 'probably quite well', it's still uncharted territory, which places an awful amount of pressure on 'Rogue One's' shoulders. For those who inexplicably missed the memo, "Rogue One" is the first of Disney's "Star Wars Stories," IE: a self-contained adventure that doesn't tie into the new trilogy.

Whilst the die-hard fans (myself included) will no doubt find this to be a thrilling prospect, there's no telling how the general public will react. Well, there is some indication actually, in the form of Box Office predictions and estimations, most of which anticipate the film's opening weekend to score somewhere in the $300 million zone. By the way, in case you were wondering, that's a lot of money.

In fact, if these estimations prove to be accurate, then that would give 'Rogue One' the second-highest December debut of all time, just falling behind (you guessed it) "The Force Awakens".

Professional box office analysts expect "Rogue One" to do a similar level of business despite the newer film lacking the crucial distinction of being 'Star Wars' epic resurgence. Things are looking positive, not only for 'Rogue One', but for the entirety of Disney's 'Star Wars' universe. If even these comparatively small spin-off films can rake in substantial box-office takes, then it really does go to show that "The Force Awakens" wasn't coasting on nostalgia alone, as many have claimed. Instead, it would suggest that there's a mainstream appetite out there for even more entries in this iconic franchise and that more importantly, there is an interest in films that dare to focus on new characters and new stories. Which is a good thing, because it will encourage Disney to take even more risks and bank on even more obscure, original and out-there ideas.