Today, the highest grossing film in domestic box office history, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will click past $900M after 50 days in release. In addition, the Disney pic is crossing the $2 billion worldwide mark tomorrow in its 53rd day of global release, still the third-highest on a worldwide basis after James Cameron’s Avatar ($2.78B) and Titanic ($2.19B).
By comparison, former all-time champ Avatar stood at $612.7M at the same point in time in its domestic run; it hadn’t even beat Titanic yet Avatar would ultimately final its stateside B.O. at $760.5M; the final B.O. for Titanic was $658.7M. Through 50 days, Titanic stood at $320M, while last summer’s Jurassic World had $628.8M at the same time period.
As Deadline previously reported, Force Awakens will unlikely surpass Avatar‘s global all-time record.
As Force Awakens heads into its eighth weekend, it remains booked at 2,000-plus theaters, a level that Jurassic World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron dipped below during the same juncture. It will be interesting to see how long Force Awakens holds this amount of theater bookings. 2008’s Dark Knight stayed above 2,000 theaters for nine weeks, while American Sniper did for 12 weeks.
Since posting a record stateside debut of $247.97M, Force Awakens has generated a total cume that’s a 3.6 multiple of that opening. That’s the average factor associated with a title earning an A CinemaScore, which was Force Awakens’ grade.
While there’s a notion that Star Wars: Force Awakens got to this point due to Disney’s strict stronghold on screens (Quentin Tarantino even griped that Star Wars boxed his Cinemarama-tailor-made spectacle The Hateful Eight out of the Hollywood Arclight’s Dome), those restrictions have eased. Exhibition sources tell Deadline that Disney’s demands weren’t unusual in the first place. While case by case deals were made, essentially if Star Wars was at a 15-plex, then it had to be shown in two of their biggest auditoriums for the first 17 days. For any theater owner that has a title like Star Wars that’s making money hand over fist, well, that’s naturally where they’re going to play that title. So it wasn’t like Disney was setting any artificial chokeholds in the marketplace. Thanks to Force Awakens, 2015 set a never-before-record of $11B in annual ticket sales.
Early on, we made the assessment that Force Awakens wouldn’t squash business for the competition, and that all boats would rise. Depending which distributor you ask, they’ll agree or disagree with that assessment. However, according to one exhibition chief we spoke with, he said Star Wars was fantastic for business. Comedy titles like Paramount’s Daddy’s Home ($143M) and Universal’s Sisters ($86.1M) had the spoils, with theater managers reporting guys would head to Star Wars or Daddy’s Home, while the women headed for Sisters.
But what about Concussion ($34M), Joy ($55.4M) and Hateful Eight ($52.4M)? Certainly, these Christmas day releases suffered at the hands at the hands of Star Wars. Said one exhibition insider, “These movies weren’t getting excellent feedback and would not have fared any better without Star Wars in the market. If anything, they benefited from Star Wars.”
Lionsgate blamed Force Awakens for cutting in its The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 gross by as much as $50M-$100M. That’s a hasty excuse. Mockingjay Part 2 was already grossing behind Mockingjay Part 1 by $32.7M or 12% before Star Wars even opened. True, MJ2 had fewer screens over the holidays than MJ1 (which held between 2,600-2,800 over its Christmas and New Year’s weekends). However, between the weekend before Christmas through yesterday, MJ2 only made $32M, which is $21M less than the $53.8M that MJ1 posted over the same period. Essentially, that gap can also be pegged to the $19.2M difference between the two titles openings: MJ1 at $121.9M and MJ2 at $102.7M.
Art house and limited titles certainly weren’t mowed, holding up hefty theater averages (i.e. The Revenant‘s $119K at four L.A. and New York locales, the Weinstein Co.’s Carol with $1M Christmas and New Year’s weekend takes in less than 200 venues). Upscale audiences for such fare didn’t have any interest in dealing with Star Wars lines or masses.
“This is a historic moment for Star Wars, for Lucasfilm, and for Disney, and all of us here are extremely gratified to be a part of this journey with fans around the world who have made Star Wars: The Force Awakens such an extraordinary success,” said Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn in a statement today. “The film’s achievements are truly astounding, and it’s our great honor to relaunch this cinematic galaxy not only for all the devoted decades-long fans but for a new generation who will keep the Star Wars legacy alive for many years to come.”
Force Awakens is still going so strong that Disney isn’t contemplating its end game at the B.O., meaning a “see it for the last time on the big screen” campaign. At the rate it is going, insiders figure a final B.O. for Force Awakens of $950M before any kind of re-release. Universal stopped reporting on Jurassic World in mid-November, 23 weeks after its June 12 opening.
Given the success of Force Awakens during the year-end holiday, Disney decided two and half weeks ago to move Star Wars: Episode VIII out of its original May 26, 2017 release to December 15, 2017. The move set off a flurry of release date changes.