With all the hype over Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the full muscle of the Disney marketing machine behind it, the sky seems to be the limit for what it will do in terms of box office receipts. CNN wrote an entire article late last week discussing how predictions for how the movie will do during its opening weekend and its entire run are all over the place, simply because there’s no real precedent for this kind of event — especially with the name Star Wars attached.
Most movie industry observers expect that The Force Awakens will break the domestic opening weekend box office record set earlier this year when Jurassic World debuted to just under $209 million. The long term speculation has centered on whether the film could be only the fifth tot take in more than $600 million in the U.S. and even make a charge at Avatar ($760.5 million) as the all time domestic box office king.
Still, there’s one box office record that is absolutely in the bank for The Force Awakens, even if it somehow turns out to be horrible (not that we expect that!): the December opening weekend record, currently held by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That movie earned $84.6 million during its 2012 opening, and given the amount of tickets already sold for The Force Awakens, it’s going to blow by that mark.
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You might be asking yourself a good question: “Didn’t Titanic, the second-biggest movie of all time, also open in December?” First, if you can remember all the way back to 1997, congrats. Second, you’re correct.
The thing is, Titanic was more of a slow burner, at least by the standards of a movie that went on to make more than $600 million in the U.S. alone. It actually opened to just $28.6 million on the weekend of December 19-21, 1997, but it then defied all box office patterns by going on to bring in at least $10 million an astonishing 18 weekends in a row, including a high water mark of $30 million in its fifth weekend at number one.
All blockbuster movies are a lot more front-loaded now, and even though we all know plenty of Star Wars fanatics already making plans to see the new movie more than once, The Force Awakens should be no exception. That being the case, it’s going to rocket past the old December record holder and take whatever new mark it sets for the month out into hyperspace.
Take that to the bank. And nothing personal, hobbits, it’s just business.