Disney executives are no doubt fainting with joy right now, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens has officially landed the highest-grossing opening weekend box office haul of all time, bringing in $247 million in the United States alone, and an astonishing $529 million total global take. It should therefore come as no shock that, according to newly-released data from Facebook, the return to the galaxy far, far away is also one of the most-talked about films of all time.
From Wednesday, December 16 when early showings of The Force Awakens kicked off in Britain through last night, 64 million people worldwide had 140 million interactions (including likes, comments, and shares) about it on Facebook. The opening weekend conversation was dominated by the Anglosphere, with The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Ireland rounding out the top five countries where users were most engaged following the film’s release. Interestingly, in the U.S. the conversation online wasn’t dominated by the largest states: users in Utah were most engaged on Facebook, with New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho and Oregon completing the list.
To put these numbers in perspective, the Facebook discussion during the 5-days since The Force Awakens rolled into theaters was larger than the discussion over the preceding month. In that 30-day period, approximately 53 million people had 126 million interactions, according to Facebook. Demonstrating the importance of social media in film marketing, users invited over two million friends and family to over 35,000 Star Wars-related events, with approximately 1/3 of those attending planning to do so from more than 50 miles away.
Perhaps a reflection of the film’s highly-lauded diverse casting, the conversation bucked conventional wisdom regarding beloved geek properties, with women making up 52% of those joining in, though men interacted more often. Reflecting the franchise’s near-40 year history and its seminal place in the childhood of Generation X, 35-54 year-olds were most passionately engaged, with the demo rating the most interactions per person. Despite this, the largest age group involved in the discussion was, unsurprisingly, the far more social media-active 18-34 year-old group.
Overall, the top five countries that have been most engaged in discussion of the film in the 30-day period leading up to its premiere were the United States, Australia, The United Kingdom, Iceland, and Singapore. In the U.S., the states most engaged were Utah, Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Data provided by Relish Mix just before The Force Awakens hit theaters further fleshes out the story of fan engagement. In line with 2015’s other box office-exploding franchise installments like Jurassic World and Furious 7, Disney and Lucasfilm’s social media strategy prior to the film’s launch was very successful, ultimately reaching more than 667 million people on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube as of December 16. The film reached 85.5 million Facebook users, with 5.7 million Twitter followers, 1 million YouTube subscribers, and 574 million YouTube views.
So, what were these people talking about? In the week prior to the film’s launch, Darth Vader was the single most-talked about Star Wars character, followed by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Broken down by gender however, men were most likely to talk about Luke Skywalker, followed by Jar Jar Binks, and then Chewbacca. (No doubt it’s a concern that transcends gender, but men clearly care about the fact that Jar Jar isn’t in the film quite a bit.) Women on the other hand, surprisingly were most likely to talk about Chewbacca, followed by Darth Vader, and then Princess Leia.