The anticipation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been simply off the chart over the last three months. Since the moment that tickets were offered for sale online, the anticipation has risen along with it on an unprecedented scale; the film will enter opening showings tonight with at least $100 in pre-paid ticket revenue. The Force Awakens is the hottest ticket in town, but the question is not if will break records, the question is; how many?
Looking at the numbers that the film already has and the anticipation going into the weekend, there are a few that are essentially in the bag for the resurgence of the Star Wars saga:
Largest Thursday Pre-Show: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – 43.5 Million
Largest Friday, Opening Day, Single Day: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – 91 Million
December Single Day – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 37.13 Million
December Opening Weekend – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 84.62 Million
Fastest to $100 Million – Jurassic World – two days
Those five records will fall for sure, especially the fastest to $100 Million since pre-sales have already hit that number. Now, there are several larger records that will be harder to predict, one in particular being the biggest opening weekend of all-time. That honor currently belongs to Jurassic World, which debuted in early June this year to the tune of $208.8 million.
Upon the announcement of the new trilogy of Star Wars films, many believed that Disney would keep pace with what 20th Century Fox did with the prequel trilogy, releasing it around memorial day weekend as the studio’s tent-pole summer release. However, the company surprised many by moving the release date to December 18, 2015. That move, although it might result in a higher box office number at the end of the film’s theatrical run, might cost The Force Awakens several records, including the weekend mark.
The two films to closely compare Star Wars: The Force Awakens to are the top two grossing movies of all time, both of which released to mega-hype on the same weekend as Episode VII. Avatar debuted in 2009 with $77 million, a paltry number compared to what The Force Awakens has already grossed, but where summer movies usually fall to the wayside within three to four weeks due to simple oversaturation of the market, Avatar and Titanic excelled.
It took Avatar 16 weeks to fall out of the top 10, including 13 consecutive weekends in which it crossed more than $10 million, finishing with an unheard of $761 million box office run. In comparison, Titanic opened even worse, with $29 million in its first weekend, then took off once Leo-mania grabbed hold of the masses, making $36 million in its fifth week of release and staying in the number one spot for 17 consecutive weeks. Both films ended with over $650 million in the box office, which is something well within the wheelhouse of The Force Awakens, even if the weekend record might be out of reach simply due to timing.
Now, the hype could be real and The Force Awakens could sell out every single showing this weekend and make around $225 million, which wouldn’t be surprising. However, the sheer fact that $100 million in pre-sale tickets have been sold might cause some fans to hold off until the beginning of next week into next weekend.
Expect The Force Awakens to fall just short of the weekend record. It will hit the $200 million mark, but not much further, landing likely in the second spot on the ranking behind Jurassic World. Now, The Force Awakens is going to be in theaters for a long, long time. The benefit of debuting a film in December is you are guaranteeing your movie an elongated run in the theaters if the initial weekends look promising; January and February are famous for their inability to send quality films into the Cineplex.
Expect Episode VII to hang onto the No. 1 box office ranking for a few weeks and stay in the top 10 well into February, not dropping out of relevancy until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice premieres. The Force Awakens will end up as the No. 2 movie of All-Time, falling short of the record from Avatar but still starting off the franchise in style with over $660 Million in box-office revenue.