Star Wars: The Force Awakens the Box Office

I’m such a box office nerd. I love crunching the numbers, watching the numbers and I especially love seeing mind-blowing numbers and records fall. Well, behold the power of the Force, as Episode VII of the Star Wars saga is absolutely crushing the box office already. I misjudged just how powerful the hype was for this film. I knew it would be big, but THIS big? Holy hell. Let’s check it out using my favorite go-to box office site, Box Office Mojo.

First, here’s the top 2015 movies of the year by domestic gross. Check out the very last one:

Star Wars

After ONE DAY in release (which counts the Thursday 7 p.m. and midnight showings), Star Wars is already the 23rd most successful film domestically of the year. One day. One freaking day.

After this weekend, where estimates range from a $220 million opening to as high as $250 million, Star Wars will jump into the top 10 most successful films domestically of the year. That’s three days to jump into the top ten. And after one weekend, it could conceivably top the last film in the damn Hunger Game series to be in the top five films of the year. That’s mind-blowing to me.

But let’s check out that single day, $120 million haul more:

single day.PNG

That $120 million is the single Friday gross record, shattering the last film in the Harry Potter series’ record by almost $30 million. The latter film went on to take in $381 million domestically. Look at the other three films there. All three, aside from Titanic and Avatar, are the biggest domestic films of all time. And Star Wars is far and away out-pacing those.

How about that opening weekend record?

Opening weekend

So, with projections on the low end of $220 million and on the high end of $250 million, Star Wars is going to shatter the opening weekend record either way. There was a time when a $200 million opening was unheard of and now we’re talking about a potential $250 million opening. Most films in domestic release would be happy to reach $100 million in their entire run, much less $250 million in their opening weekend.

And look, Star Wars before even counting in Sunday grosses, will already be likely the 4th biggest opening weekend ever. That’s just bananas.

Before Star Wars came out, I looked at this domestic chart (unadjusted) and thought, “There’s no way that Star Wars can top Avatar and Titanic.”


But if Jurassic World with a $208 million opening weekend can go on to make $652 million, then it stands to reason that Star Wars opening between $220 million-$250 million could surpass Avatar’s $760 million to become the biggest domestic film of all time and finally dethrone James Cameron, who owns both top slots. The real question for that is what kind of legs will Star Wars have?

The reason Avatar and Titanic made so much damn money is because they had legs, i.e., people saw the film over and over and for weeks after the initial release. Star Wars had so much hype, the front-loading effect is evidenced by its huge opening weekend. So, it’ll be interesting to follow its progression to next weekend and beyond.

As for the rest of the globe, I really thought these global numbers were out of reach for Star Wars:


Star Wars has already made $129 million overseas and added in with domestic, it’s already a quarter of a billion film. So, yeah, it’s definitely going to be joining the global billion dollar club of movies. The real question is, will it be joining the even more elusive two global two billion dollar club of movies? Disney sure hopes so.

But just to put things into perspective, Jurassic World and The Avengers, as I’ve shown already, are the two domestic films behind Titanic and Avatar, respectively, but look how much bigger the gap is between those films on the global stage. Jurassic World is $400 million off of Titanic’s global gross and almost a $1 billion off of Avatar’s.

So Star Wars needs to make A LOT of money overseas to topple Titanic and especially Avatar. It could happen, however.

One final thing I want to look at for you adjust-for-inflation folks. Here’s the top 25 films’ domestic grosses adjusted for inflation:


Yeah…So, unfortunately, it would be shocking if the Force Awakens could topple the originl Star Wars’ adjusted domestic gross of $1.4 billion. It’s just not going to happen. A billion dollar domestic film nowadays seems so far out of reach. On the other hand, the original’s sequel, The Empire Strikes Back at #12 on the list with $818 million adjusted domestic gross is absolutely within reach. As is the next follow up, Return of the Jedi at #15 with $784 million adjusted domestic gross. And obviously, then, the same with the Phantom Menace’s $753 million adjusted domestic gross.

If it can top Avatar to be the biggest film of all time domestically unadjusted, then that would make it at least the #13 domestic film of all time adjusted, which is impressive, to say the least.

The point here is that it’s fun as hell to follow record-breaking box office numbers; it’s right in my nerdy wheelhouse. I hope you enjoyed my breakdown and I look forward to following Star Wars’ ascent as it progresses forward.

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