‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ NOT to become worldwide top-grossing movie of all time?
Dec. 21 update: J.J. Abrams’ futuristic adventure movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the most eagerly awaited film release since … let’s see … Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider made out in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris back in the early 1970s, destroying families, lives, and whole nations.
Or perhaps, since Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana created a furor at the Cannes Film Festival back in 1961, leaving audiences the world over desperate for a look at the movie condemned by both the Spanish military and the Catholic Church for demonstrating that (at least a certain kind of) charity is a stupidity, not a virtue.
Or maybe we still have to go further back in time to…
Never mind, the point is that the moviegoing masses were so thirsty for this latest Star Wars offering that they flocked to theaters even more enthusiastically than they had flocked to theaters earlier this year to check out Furious Seven, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Minions – all currently among the top ten box office hits worldwide (not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations).
As a result, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has shattered myriad box office records not only in the U.S. and Canada but also internationally.
Box office records ain’t what they used to be
Of course, box office record-breaking isn’t what it used to be. For instance, Star Wars: The Force Awakens collected an estimated $57 million from Thursday (Dec. 17) previews vs. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2‘s $43.5 million back in July 2011. Minor detail: The Force Awakens previews include evening shows that began at 7 p.m., while Deathly Hallows 2 tallied only midnight screenings.
Another minor detail, according to Boxofficemojo.com: The Force Awakens’ figures include tickets sold to marathon Star Wars shows that cost as much as $59.99 each.
But then again, comparing apples and pineapples is perfectly fine – as long as your studio’s apple (or pineapple) comes out on top.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ to trail James Cameron epics?
Even so, the Walt Disney Studios’ pineapple from a galaxy far, far away, will likely have to face the (likely) reality that The Force will not be strong enough to propel it to the top of the all-time worldwide box office chart.
Surely you’ve heard of Goldman Sachs and their key role in the 2008 economic cataclysm that is still reverberating around the world. Well, some of those brilliant guys/gals predict that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will arise $1.95 billion worldwide: approx. $750 million in the U.S. and Canada and $1.2 billion internationally.
In inflation-adjusted dollars, that would place The Force Awakens behind two James Cameron epics:
- The romantic epic Titanic (1997), featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Gloria Stuart: $3.6 billion grand total to date.
- The Pandoric epic Avatar, featuring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver: $2.9 billion.
The 2D factor and currency fluctuations
Now, things get a little trickier because the U.S. dollar is unusually strong at the moment. In other words, with some variations here and there the dollar amount of international figures will be lower than they would have been at any time in (at least) the past decade. (See further below more info on the box office performance of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the U.K. and France.)
And keep in mind that despite the huge box office success of Titanic 3D in China, the original Titanic was a 2D film; in other words, no extra charge for 3D tickets or even PLF screens.
No need for despair
Understandably, this is all very disheartening for Star Wars fans, especially those who wanted to be Darth Vader when they grew up.
But see, these things happen. And remember, in case Star Wars: The Force Awakens does indeed lag behind Titanic and Avatar, there’s always the chance that Star Wars: Episode VIII will do the trick.
If not, then Star Wars: Episode IX. Or Star Wars: Episode X. Or, as Mickey Mouse would say, Star Wars: Episode Ad Infinitum.
June 2016 update: Star Wars: The Force Awakens cumed at $2.068 billion worldwide, thus trailing – even without adjusting for inflation – both Avatar ($2.788 billion) and Titanic ($2.186.8 billion).
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ breaks British (and Irish) box office record
Dec. 18 update: Star Wars: The Force Awakens took in an estimated $14.3 million (£9.6 million) in the U.K. and Ireland on Thursday, Dec. 17, ’15.
As found in The Hollywood Reporter, whose source is the Walt Disney Studios, that makes the latest Star Wars movie the biggest single-day grosser in British/Irish box office history – not factoring in inflation. Record-breaking midnight screenings accounted for $3.6 million (£2.4 million) of the total.
The previous record-holder in that part of the world was David Yates’ final installment in the Harry Potter franchise. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, a Warner Bros. release, collected £9.5 million back in July 2011.
Considering how close the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Force Awakens figures are, this particular box office record probably wouldn’t hold if ticket sales – the actual measure of a film’s success – were taken into account. Leave that up to France. See further below.
Even so, in the coming days expect lots of breathless reporting online and elsewhere about Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a record-breaking record breaker.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: Record-breaking pre-sales
Dec. 17: Star Wars: The Force Awakens represents the triumph of market over matter. Fandango has reported that pre-sales for the latest Star Wars movie has broken the company’s all-time record – and they were not referring to just pre-sales record; the Walt Disney Studios’ sci-fi adventure flick has broken the record for tickets sold at Fandango during the entire run of movies such as Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World (the previous record-holder), Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And to think that Alec Guinness cannot even be found in Episode 7.
Pre-sales worth $100 million
As per Deadline.com, pre-sales have reached $100 million across the board (Fandango, MovieTickets.com, etc.). Also worth noting, at MovieTickets.com 68% of ticket buyers are male; the average ticket buyers’ age is a methuselahesque 44.
But don’t be too shocked; just do the math. If you’re 44 today, that means you were 6 years old when George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie came out in 1977 and you wanted to grow up to be Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia or Darth Vader. The years pass, you discover that Luke and Leia never existed and will never exist, and that Darth Vader may be your (or somebody else’s) next president or prime minister.
So, what do you do? You buy a movie ticket for the latest Star Wars movie so you can sit back and wonder about what exactly went wrong along the way.
No box office record in France
As found at Box Office Mojo, Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted on Wed., Dec. 16, ’15, with $14.1 million from 12 international markets. The top shares went to France, with $5.2 million; Italy, with $2 million; Sweden, with $1.7 million; and Norway, with $1.1 million.
Overall, no historical records were broken in France. In fact, no 2015 records were broken – at least in terms of admissions, the honest way of measuring a movie’s popularity.
Directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, and Monica Bellucci, the James Bond flick Spectre sold 850,297 tickets on its opening day (admittedly, a holiday and with previews included) vs. Star Wars: the Force Awakens’ 619,200 (not a specific holiday, but at a time of year when schools are shutting down for the holidays; no previews were tallied, as there were none).
On the plus side, not factoring in inflation or currency fluctuations, in U.S. dollars Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the biggest one-day debut of any Disney film in France and the biggest one-day December debut ever. It also earned about twice as much as Jurassic World on its opening day.
In Italy, the film had the biggest opening for the month of December (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations). In Sweden and Norway, it had the biggest one-day debut ever in U.S. dollars (once again, not adjusted).
North American all-time record?
In North America, the hub of the Star Wars fandom, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to break all sorts of box office records. These range from biggest opening weekend debut – in case it does reach $220 million, as some have been expecting – to fastest movie to reach $1 trillion (or whereabouts).
The current domestic opening weekend record belongs to Jurassic World, with $208.8 million. Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs – well, in all fairness, they originally were Michael Crichton’s dinosaurs – also hold the record for biggest worldwide opening weekend ever: $524.9 million.
Anyhow, the important thing to remember while reading about all the shattered box office records in the next few days is that most publications out there breathlessly reporting on such matters will be merely regurgitating what the Walt Disney Studios, via its press releases and whatever else, tells them is fact.
Let the critical thinking be with you.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ cast and screenwriters
Among the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast members are:
Oscar Isaac. Domhnall Gleeson. Daisy Ridley. Adam Driver. Peter Mayhew. Andy Serkis.
John Boyega. Carrie Fisher. Mark Hamill. Warwick Davis. Anthony Daniels. Billie Lourd. Kenny Baker.
Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Mark Stanley. Gwendoline Christie. Greg Grunberg. Jessica Henwick. Simon Pegg.
Best Actor Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness, 1985).
Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, 2012).
And veteran Ingmar Bergman star Max von Sydow (The Virgin Spring, Shame, The Passion of Anna, Hour of the Wolf), also a two-time Oscar nominee (Best Actor for Pelle the Conqueror, 1988; Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, 2011) and the Emperor Ming in the 1980 Flash Gordon.
As mentioned further up, J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness) directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The screenplay is credited to Abrams, veteran Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, The Big Chill, Body Heat, Grand Canyon) and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, A Walk in the Woods, Oblivion, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
‘Star Wars 7’ news: ‘The Force Awakens’ shatters ‘Jurassic World’ & Christmas records
Dec. 27 update: As expected, Star Wars 7 a.k.a. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has broken three major box office records this Christmas weekend (Dec. 25–27, ’15):
- Best second domestic weekend ever.
- Fastest movie to reach $500 million at the domestic box office.
- Fastest movie to reach $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
Now let’s go over one Star Wars 7 box office record at a time.
Best second domestic weekend: Christmas gift
With an estimated $153.52 million from 4,134 locations in North America (remember, this particular North America doesn’t include Mexico – or Greenland, for that matter), Star Wars Episode 7 easily surpassed the previous record-holder.
To find it, we have to go all the way back to … six months ago, when Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, and a kick-ass (i.e., psychopathic) GMO dinosaur, collected $106.58 million – barely surpassing The Avengers’ $103.05 million back in May 2012.
The Power of The up-and-running Force? Definitely. But in all fairness, The Power of a Holiday Friday as well. Christmas on Friday provided The Force Awakens with a crucial box office boost that runners-up Jurassic World, The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, to name five, lacked.
As for Avatar, its second weekend (back in 2009) coincided with Christmas on a Friday as well – when, that one day, it actually trailed the Robert Downey Jr.-Jude Law combo Sherlock Holmes.
Although James Cameron’s futuristic 3D adventure starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver was showing at 3,461 U.S. and Canada sites – or 673 fewer than Star Wars 7 – it did gross “only” $75.6 million (or approx. $83 million in 2015).
El Niño boost
And here’s something that likely boosted The Force Awakens’ box office fortunes: The El Niño effect, part of the Earth’s fast-changing climate, has resulted in spring-like (in some cases summer-like), record-breaking highs in much of the central and eastern United States.
In other words, no winter snowstorms – like those back in late 2009 – to keep potential moviegoers huddled up at home.
Fastest movie to reach $500 million at the domestic box office
With an estimated $527.49 million after ten days (and a half or so) in North America, Star Wars 7 easily beat another Jurassic World record: Fastest movie to reach $500 million in the U.S. and Canada.
It took Jurassic World 17 days to get there. The Avengers was next with 23 days, followed by Avatar with 32 days.
Fastest movie to reach $1 billion at the worldwide box office
With an estimated $1.09 billion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens beat – once again – Jurassic World to become the fastest movie to reach $1 billion at the worldwide box office: 12 days vs. 13 days.
Of particular importance here is the fact that Star Wars 7 has yet to open in China, whereas Jurassic World‘s 13-day worldwide box office figure included that mammoth international market.
Co-executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, Jurassic World cumed at $1.668 billion worldwide.
More ‘Star Wars 7’ news: Domestic Christmas Day box office record demolished
Dec. 26: The 2015 Christmas movie of choice had nothing to do with Santa Claus, elves, reindeer, or Jesus. J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens a.k.a. Star Wars 7 smashed the domestic Christmas Day box office record on Friday, earning an estimated $49.34 million from 4,134 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
The previous record-holder was Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, which grossed $24.6 million on Christmas Day 2009 – not coincidentally, another Friday.
Next (about to be) broken record
Next in line – as in, next box office records to be shattered by Star Wars 7 – are “fastest to reach $500 million at the domestic box office” and “fastest to reach $1 billion at the worldwide box office.”
After grossing an estimated $160–$180 million this Christmas weekend, Star Wars 7 should pass both figures sometime on Sunday, Dec. 28 – a mere ten days (and a half, considering Thursday previews) after its release.
The (soon-to-be former) record-holder in both categories is Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Irrfan Khan, and released earlier this year. Co-executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, Jurassic World took 17 days to reach $500 million in North America and 13 days to reach $1 billion worldwide.
To date (Dec. 25), Star Wars 7 has scored an estimated $440.39 million in North America and $449.9 million worldwide. The top international market is the U.K., with an estimated $83 million. The worldwide grand total stands at $890.3 million.
As an aside, no box office records were broken in Egypt. Total Star Wars 7 gross as of Dec. 20: $35,968.
Star Wars 7 cast and screenwriters
The Star Wars 7 cast includes the following:
Oscar Isaac. Domhnall Gleeson. Daisy Ridley. Andy Serkis. Adam Driver. John Boyega. Peter Mayhew.
Carrie Fisher. Mark Hamill. Warwick Davis. Kenny Baker. Anthony Daniels. Billie Lourd. Maisie Richardson-Sellers.
Mark Stanley. Greg Grunberg. Gwendoline Christie. Jessica Henwick. Simon Pegg.
Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, 2012).
Best Actor Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness, 1985).
Two-time Oscar nominee Max von Sydow (Best Actor for Pelle the Conqueror, 1988; Best Supporting Actor for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, 2011).
Veteran Max von Sydow’s other film credits include a series of movies directed by Ingmar Bergman (e.g., The Virgin Spring, The Touch), in addition to Hollywood fare such as The Greatest Story Ever Told, Hawaii, The Three Days of the Condor, and Flash Gordon.
The Star Wars 7 screenplay is credited to J.J. Abrams, veteran Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Body Heat, The Big Chill), and Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3, Oblivion, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
Among Abrams’ directing credits are Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness. His screenwriting credits include the TV series Fringe, Lost, and Alias.
Christmas Day domestic box office runner-up?
 Dec. 25, ’09, was Sherlock Holmes’ opening day, when it actually got to beat James Cameron’s Avatar ($23.95 million) on its second weekend out.
With nearly $27 million, Sherlock Holmes remains the no. 2 Christmas Day movie at the domestic box office even on the inflation-adjusted chart. Guy Ritchie’s thrill ride stars Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams.
The no. 3 movie on the chart is Jay Roach’s Meet the Fockers (2004), which collected approximately $26.2 million adjusted for inflation (actuals: $19.54 million, on a Saturday).
In the Meet the Fockers cast:
Ben Stiller. Robert De Niro. Barbra Streisand. Dustin Hoffman. Blythe Danner. Teri Polo. Owen Wilson.
Star Wars 7 images of Han Solo a.k.a. Harrison Ford, Chewbacca a.k.a. Peter Mayhew, Supreme Leader Snoke a.k.a. Andy Serkis, and the Stormtroopers a.k.a. the Stormtroopers: Walt Disney Studios.
Star Wars 7 laser sword wallpaper: Walt Disney Studios.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens images of Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Domhnall Gleason, Adam Driver, and Darth Vader (or facsimile): Walt Disney Studios.
See also: Review of Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), which suffers under the weight of corporate pressure. Alden Ehrenreich stars.
Hey Daniel, I hope you to be here and to hold the brief conversation in late January 2016. Worldwide profit of SW will hardly be over 2B. Which will determine third place. And that’s what I liked in this article - real terms (for predicting international profits) and not as hyper fans …
I apologize for my not very good English.
For the first time I see so realistic prognosis article. Thank you for your honesty.
The reason it didn’t break the record is because the movie didn’t release in China yet which is the second largest movie seeing country other than the US. So get off your pretentious high horse and do some actual journalistic work for once in your insignificant life.
Absolutely true re: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and second largest ‘movie-seeing’ country China. J.J. Abrams’ film will be getting a Chinese release in early 2016.
A couple of minor details: In case you were too pissed off to notice, that’s not what the article is about and that’s not the record-breaking feat (likely NOT about to happen) discussed in the piece.