‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Box Office Nearing $2 Billion, but ‘Avatar’ Record Unlikely

     February 5, 2016


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is about to hit another milestone in its stellar box office run. Disney announced today that the J.J. Abrams-helmed sequel will cross the $900 million mark at the domestic box office, making it the first film in history to do so. Moreover, on Saturday the film is expected to reach the $2 billion mark worldwide—a stunning achievement by any measure. That domestic mile-marker is particular striking, as it leaves Avatar’s second-place finish of $760.5 million in the dust, and will set a very high bar to cross. During its 50 days in release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set a number of box office records, including:

  • Biggest domestic preview gross ($57 million)
  • Biggest opening day domestically ($119.1 million)
  • Biggest domestic second weekend ($149.2 million)
  • Biggest domestic third weekend ($90.2 million)
  • Biggest opening week domestically ($390.8 million)
  • Biggest opening weekend in 18 territories: U.K. (4-day), Australia, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, Poland (3-day), Denmark (5-day), Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ukraine, Iceland, Serbia, New Zealand
  • Fastest film to $1B globally (12 days)
  • Biggest film of all time in the U.S. and the U.K.


Image via Lucasfilm

However, one record Star Wars is unlikely to set is the biggest of them all: highest grossing film of all time. Indeed, The Force Awakens’ global rollout has slowed considerably over the last few weeks, and even though it’s set to top $2 billion worldwide, it will fall quite short of Avatar’s $2.78 billion record. It has already secured the #3 slot on the worldwide chart, but will need to rack up another $180 million and change to topple Titanic’s worldwide gross of $2.186 billion.

This presents a fascinating dichotomy. The Force Awakens is far and away the highest grossing film of all time domestically, but internationally it didn’t have the same legs as Avatar and Titanic. A number of factors could account for this result, but it appears that folks were maybe a tad too bullish on the international crossover appeal of the iconic franchise.

Now $2 billion worldwide is nothing to scoff at, but more than many other recent massive blockbusters, Star Wars: The Force Awakens carried the heft of its box office total here in the States, not abroad. In fact, its international total of $1.095 billion is not too far off from its $900 million domestic total. A 1:1 ratio of domestic to international is kind of unheard of nowadays, so that’s yet another curiosity in the continuing saga of Star Wars under Disney’s reign.

The Mouse House has already altered its release plans on account of the smashing success of The Force Awakens in December—I’m still waiting on my commission—so it’ll be interesting to see how subsequent Star Wars films fare both domestically and abroad. Will the global appeal of Star Wars increase or decrease before the releases of Rogue One and Episode VIII? Can any sequel come close to the astounding success of The Force Awakens, or will the combination of nostalgia and the unknown prove to be a onetime phenomenon, leading to sizable but not astronomical numbers for the rest of the franchise? For that answer, we wait.


Image via Lucasfilm

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