"Even more remarkable than these Jurassic numbers? Knowing they'll all be crushed in December."- Seth Grahame-Smith
"@sethgs yep. An exec tell me the other day he feels STAR WARS does $4 billion including $1 billion in China alone and was being dead serious."- Justin Kroll
Grahame-Smith goes on to say that he thinks that $4 billion is a bit much, but believes that The Force Awakens will be the first film to pass $3 billion at the global box office. Now, I definitely believe that The Force Awakens will be a monster smash. And it will be an even bigger smash if it's good. Currently, it's positioned to open on the exact same day that Avatar debuted on back on 2009, and we all know that the James Cameron sci-fi flick is the highest grossing flick of all time, with box office receipts totaling $760.5 million in the US and $2.78 billion worldwide with $204.1 million of that coming from China. Does The Force Awakens realistically have enough to beat that box office behemoth?
The Box Office History of Star Wars
But is the precedent there for Star Wars to gross $2, $3 or even $4 billion dollars? Out of curiosity, I headed over to Box Office Mojo to examine what the previous Star Wars films had grossed at the box office. The comps for the original trilogy are a little messy because of the lack of a true way to adjust. But boy BOM's standards, all of these titles have been adjusted for inflation.
Star Wars (1977)- $1,159,000,000
Empire Strikes Back- $640,361,400
Return of the Jedi- $657,585,100
So, basically, every movie in the OT was a big smash hit with Star Wars approaching astronomical levels. Empire and Jedi were big as well, and if they had been released in today's market, the overseas numbers would have been huge as well. Now, let's take a look at what the prequels did at the box office. As always, all numbers adjusted for inflation.
Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace- $688,785,500
*Does not include 3-D re-release
Opening Weekend- $103,611,500
5-day total- $168,891,600
Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones- $422,339,600
Opening Weekend- $111,846,100
4-day total- $153,971,500
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith- $481,715,600
Opening Weekend- $137,363,300
4-day total- $200,719,400
The Phantom Menace- $493,229,257
Attack of the Clones- $338,721,588
Revenge of the Sith- $468,484,191
Jurassic vs. Star Wars
Those are all big numbers. Each and every Star Wars film made back its money and more. But it does lead me to question Grahame-Smith and Kroll's assumption. Can a Star Wars film really approach $4 billion? Will The Force Awakens even realistically make it to $3 billion? As a fan of the franchise, I say yes, but in the real world, I'm beginning to question that. For a comparison, let's look at the adjusted numbers for Jurassic Park.
*Does not include 3-D re-release
Domestic Total- $699,991,400
Opening Weekend- $92.2 million
International Total (not adjusted for inflation)- $557,623,171
A New Hope
As many know, people really don't like the prequels. I mean, they REALLY don't like them. Granted, they still made a ton of money, but there is a lot of hatred in the film community and the Star Wars community for the George Lucas-directed films. The Force Awakens promises to not be more of the same. The Force Awakens has a young, fresh director in JJ Abrams, original cast members who were sorely missed in the prequels, new stars set to appeal to a new generation of fans, the Disney marketing machine and the benefit of having released two terrific trailers. People are pumped and ready for a new Star Wars film and the international market has only grown since the last film hit in 2005.
If The Force Awakens is as good as we think it will be, and if it pleases both die hards and casual fans, then the sky is the limit. There will be no telling how high it will go. It could hit those astronomical numbers that Grahame-Smith and Kroll discuss in their respective tweets.
The Records in Jeopardy
After that massive Thursday opening, it will be up to families and casual fans to carry this film to success. The Star Wars crazies (myself included) will see it two or three or four times over the course of the weekend, but it's a matter of getting other critical audiences to check it out like they did for Jurassic World. If everything falls into place correctly, I think that we could see an opening day that nears $135 million and an opening weekend near $250-$300 million. The anticipation is really that high.
Or, something completely different could happen. The Force Awakens could snag around $175-$200 million on its way to a very leggy run a la Avatar. But I just don't see that happening. Even though Christmas releases (like Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies) usually have longer runs and smaller openings, I don't think that The Force Awakens is a film that many people will wait for. People are going to want to see this film as soon as possible, and I think that will result in a worldwide opening of $550-$700 million.
As we near closer to the film's release and see more information, we'll definitely get more insight into the box office prospects of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But for now, my current projections for the movie go like this:
-Thursday night- $46 million
-Opening Day Total- $135.4 million
-Opening Weekend- $289 million
-International Opening Weekend- $425 million
-Worldwide Total Opening Weekend- $714 million
-Total US Gross- $800 million
-Total International Gross-$1.6 billion
-Total Worldwide Gross- $2.4 billion
My predictions will undoubtedly change over time and depending on how Disney works over the next few months, these numbers could go down significantly. But if everything falls into place exactly like it should, then we could be seeing the biggest box office juggernaut of all time by the time that December rolls around.