Star Wars: The Force Awakens Breaks Box-Office Records

Star Wars: The Force Awakens posterStar Wars: The Force Awakens took in an estimated $238 million domestically in its opening weekend. It’s the biggest opening weekend in history, besting Jurassic World, which set a new opening-weekend record with $208.8 million, earlier this year.

More remarkably, The Force Awakens set a record on its first day of release. On Friday, 18 December, the movie took in an estimated $120.5 million domestically. That’s the biggest opening day in history, making The Force Awakens the first movie in history to take in $100 million in a single day.

Although anecdotal, I can report that the local IMAX 3-D showings where I live were sold out on a Sunday morning, when I thought I might be able to avoid a mobbed theater. Not only were they sold out, but the first three showings were already sold out, including the 9:30 AM showing. I’ve never seen this before.

IMAX screenings, which carry a higher ticket price, was another area where the movie broke records. The film took in $30.1 million in IMAX tickets this weekend, demolishing the previous record of $20.9 million, held by Jurassic World.

The movie’s success is especially notable because it was a December release. Traditionally, movies were released in November and December to capitalize on holiday movie-going — as well as to get artistic movies out in a given calendar year for Oscar consideration. The November-December period also offers a way of avoiding the September-October and January-February “dead zones,” when Hollywood releases movies it expect to flop and even praised movies routinely get punished at the box office. But the end-of-the-year period, today, is decidedly secondary to the summer blockbuster season. For example, December has never had a $100-million opening weekend before. The closest, before The Force Awakens, was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which took in $84.6 million domestically in its opening weekend. The Force Awakens obliterated that weekend record in its first day of release. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey also had the highest December opening day… with $37.1 million domestically. While these are great numbers, they’re far less than summer blockbusters. The Force Awakens is bucking this trend, and this may just be the most remarkable aspect of its box-office success.

Current estimates do have The Force Awakens falling short of Jurassic World‘s Saturday and Sunday totals, as well as Jurassic World‘s international take by its domestic opening weekend. To date, The Force Awakens has grossed an estimated $517 worldwide, in contrast to Jurassic World‘s $524.9-million worldwide opening weekend. In part, that’s due to The Force Awakens not having opened in China yet. With Christmas falling on this Friday, The Force Awakens is likely to perform well in its second weekend — as well as during this week, when many have days off from work. Anecdotally, I’m seeing many reports of multiple viewings, and the movie’s reviews have been very good — both of which bode well for the movie, despite how front-loaded overall box-office totals have become.

The big question now is whether The Force Awakens can dethrone Avatar‘s $760.5-million domestic total to become the highest-grossing movie of all time in the U.S., or Avatar‘s total worldwide take of $2.788 billion. If The Force Awakens winds up grossing a total that’s three times its opening weekend, it would wind up with $714 million domestically and $1.553 billion worldwide, putting it in second place domestically and fourth place worldwide.

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

See more, including free online content, on .

Also by Julian Darius:

This Lightning, This Madness: Understanding Alan Moore\'s Miracleman, Book One

author

producer

A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe

contributor

Classics on Infinite Earths: The Justice League and DC Crossover Canon

author

executive producer

New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics

contributor

producer

executive producer

When Manga Came to America: Super-Hero Revisionism in Mai, the Psychic Girl

author

a short documentary on Chris Claremont's historic run and its influence

executive producer

Warren Ellis: The Captured Ghosts Interviews

introduction

Voyage in Noise: Warren Ellis and the Demise of Western Civilization

co-author

Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan

contributor

The Weirdest Sci-Fi Comic Ever Made: Understanding Jack Kirby\'s 2001: A Space Odyssey

author

The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil

contributor

Everything and a Mini-Series for the Kitchen Sink: Understanding Infinite Crisis

author

Revisionism, Radical Experimentation, and Dystopia in Keith Giffen\'s Legion of Super-Heroes

author

And the Universe so Big: Understanding Batman: The Killing Joke

author

a feature-length documentary film on celebrated comics writer Warren Ellis

executive producer

Keeping the World Strange: A Planetary Guide

contributor

Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen

contributor

a documentary on the life and work of celebrated comics writer Grant Morrison

executive producer

Improving the Foundations: Batman Begins from Comics to Screen

author

Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes

contributor

Not pictured:

1 Comment

  1. Interesting article, Julian, thanks. I’ve always been a ‘Star Wars’ fan,and absolutely loved ‘The Force Awakens’, but even I’m surprised by the impact its having on, well, the entire galaxy at the moment. I can’t help but wonder if the franchise’s Force is strong enough for it to weather the inevitable backlash more sufficiently than the prequel trilogy did.

    It’ll definitely be interesting to see how ‘The Force Awakens’ is remembered, both as part of the overall saga and as the opener of this new trilogy(or, rather, herald of a new age of ‘Star Wars’ at the cinema). After all, the closest parallel to the current climate has to be the hype surrounding the release of ‘The Phantom Menace’, and we all know how that is remembered(despite the clear differences with how it actually was received at the time.). Almost every positive review I’ve read of the film so far has had a paragraph set aside to remind readers how ‘appaling’ the prequel trilogy was. In some cases, reviewers are bemoaning the movie’s lack of information on the current political landscape in the SW universe, apparently forgetful of the widespread criticisms of the opposite in Episodes I to III.

    Still, JJ Abrams and his cast and crew have done an amazing job with ‘The Force Awakens’, and now, with Rian Johnson at the helm for Episode VIII(and writing Episode IX), we may get the type of movies many were hoping for at the turn of the century. After all, who better to make movies for a couple of generations of people who’ve grown up with Star Wars, than some filmmakers who have grown up with Star Wars, right? Especially if Johnson builds on Abrams’ use of extensive practical effects, elaborate sets and a deliberate focus on beloved elements of that original trilogy.

Leave a Reply