When Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened in theaters to a massive, record-breaking opening weekend, we knew the film was big. But it was only in the ensuing weeks that we discovered how huge a box office juggernaut the movie would be. It continued to dominate the box office chart, breaking record-after-record as it soared to $815.8 million domestic—the first film to ever cross the $800 million threshold domestically. That was enough to unseat James Cameron’s top two films here in the states, surpassing Avatar’s previous record of $760.5 million to become the highest grossing movie of all time, but director J.J. Abrams’ sequel has been slower to climb the international box office chart, and now it looks like Cameron could remain the literal king of the world.
On the all-time worldwide chart, The Force Awakens has surpassed Jurassic World to secure the #3 position overall with $1.7 billion. It’s currently on track to continue up the ranks and overtake Titanic’s $2.18 billion to secure the #2 slot, but according to analysts (per THR), it’s unlikely that the film will secure the $2.788 billion needed to top Avatar’s record-holding worldwide gross.
The Force Awakens got off to a much stronger start than Avatar, but Cameron’s pic had a more robust showing in international territories. Star Wars is not as big in key Asian and Latin American markets despite a strong start in China. Analysts are predicting the film will top out at anywhere between $2.1 to $2.4 billion globally, meaning even the most bullish of forecasts have it several hundred million dollars short of the Avatar record.
Of course there’s also the fact that the movie is slowing down domestically, and could be unseated from its #1 box office position as early as this weekend with strong competition in the form of Ride Along 2 and Michael Bay’s 13 Hours. That’s not the say the film won’t still have legs, but there’s definitely a cutoff point, and as the blockbuster season begins earlier than usual this year with Deadpool in February and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in March, these new and shiny big-budget films will no doubt supersede the prospect of seeing Star Wars a seventh or eighth time.
Avatar lost its #1 box office position on the first weekend in February, so the domestic comparisons aren’t as apt as the international ones when it comes to predicting whether Star Wars will take the global record. James Cameron’s film pulled in a whopping $2.02 billion from the international box office alone, while Star Wars is expected to finish around $1.2 to $1.4 billion.
The most important question, though, is does any of this matter? No, no it does not. Disney has already been satisfied with its investment in Lucasfilm with this massive success (a total box office gross of even $2.1 billion is insane), the theme park and merchandising revenue alone is astronomical, and the studio has sequels and spinoffs on tap for release every year in perpetuity. By comparison, Fox is still waiting on Cameron to stop tinkering with his scripts and actually make the second Avatar movie. So will Star Wars top Avatar’s worldwide record? Maybe, maybe not. In either case, the movie is fun and Disney is fine.