Honestly I don’t know where to begin. It should be no surprise to anyone on the planet that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (SW) is the biggest thing since The Second Coming. So many records are being broken worldwide that it’s simply too much to get into, so I’ll try to simplify things as much as I can. But yeah it’s a big hit all right.
However, before we get into that, there is one surprisingly unremarkable thing about SW which was pointed out by box office
analyst Eric Chldress – something that no one else seemed to notice before, and that demonstrates how the film industry has changed in the past decade, with its heavy dependence on franchise films, remakes and sequels.
Back in 2005 when “Revenge of the Sith” opened, only two films had ever made more than $100 million in their opening weekends – “Spider Man” and “Shrek 2.” However, in the ten years since then, some 34 films have achieved that, including “Hunger Games,” the “Harry Potter” movies, “The Dark Knight,” “Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Transformers,” “Twilight,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Jurassic World,” another “Spider-Man,” “Shrek,” “Indiana Jones,” “Man of Steel,” “Minions,” “Fast & Furious,” “Toy Story” and one “X-Men” film. No wonder the studios don’t make original films anymore. Everybody wants to see the same bloody damn thing over and over again.
But what can I say about “Force Awakens”? Aided greatly not just by audience anticipation, but also by one of the best marketing campaigns in a decade, the film broke records everywhere.
It had the biggest Friday opening for any film ever with $120 million, and on top of that, it also broke the record for any late night Thursday advance preview screenings, with $57 million. Adding in Saturday totals, the film grossed a record breaking $238 million this weekend, making it, without question, the biggest opening for any film ever domestically; although that was less than the projected $250 million that many were predicting, but who’s complaining? That easily beat out the previous all-time highest weekend opening gross of $208 million, which was set just six months ago by “Jurassic World.”
And we’re just talking about earnings here in the States. The film, which opened a few days earlier overseas on Weds, was the No.1 film in 44 foreign countries, for a total to date of $279 million. It broke the first day b.o. record in the following counties (get ready): UK/Ireland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Croatia, Iceland, Serbia, Chile, and Peru. The film also scored the highest ever opening for any Disney film in France, Denmark, South Africa, Czech Republic, and Turkey.
All in all, worldwide, the film grossed $517 million in its first week, and the sky is still the limit. Which brings up another interesting point. Some analysts are predicting that “Force Awakens” could be the first film ever to gross a billion dollars domestically. No film has ever done that before, and the record holder for all time domestic b.o. gross domestic still remains “Avatar,” which made roughly $760.5 million in the U.S. alone.
At the rate it’s going, “Force Awakens” is very likely to beat that number, but a billion in the U.S? Right now I would say unlikely, although it’ll come close with, I’m predicting, around $800 million or slightly more. But anything is possible. Besides, if we’re splitting hairs then there are some films that have already reached, or have passed the billion dollar mark in the U.S. That is, if you adjust what they earned in their respective past years of release for inflation. Therefore the first “Star Wars” film from 1977, when adjusted for inflation, has grossed $1.5 billion, with “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.,” “Titanic,” “The Ten Commandments,” “Jaws” and “Doctor Zhivago” being the other “billion” dollar grossers domestically. But we’ll have to wait and see if “Force Awakens” actually grosses a billion in today’s real dollars.
Which brings me to a question: what is still the highest grossing film ever made adjusted for inflation? Take a guess. There are really two answers to the question – one official and one unofficial. I’ll take either one, and I’ll give you the answer next week.
But there were some other new film openings that had the guts to go up against “The Force” and they were pretty much knocked out of game; like the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy “Sisters,” and Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.”
With “Sisters,” which has gotten, at best, middling reviews, Universal tried the old tactic of counter-programming, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. However, going up against “Star Wars” didn’t pay off as well as they thought it would with “Sisters,” which earned $13.4 million for 3rd place this weekend.
Meanwhile Fox’s “Road Chip” did slightly better, coming in at 2nd place with “$14.4 million.” The ironic thing about it is that, of course Fox released the first six “Star Wars” films and made untold millions from them.
But after George Lucas sold Lucasfilm Ltd. to Disney for $4 billion, Fox was left to rely on their few surviving franchises to make up for the loss, like Alvin and those rascally chipmunks which, though the series has been very successful in previous films, no one can say they are in any way the equal of any “Star Wars” film.
Of course Fox still has the “X-Men” films and “The Fantastic Four,” although, judging from the last one this past summer, I think it’s fair to say that fans wish any other studio but Fox would make the next one. That is if there is another one.
Meanwhile, last week’s No.1 film, “In the Heart of the Sea,” dropped nearly 69%, landing in 8th place, while “The Hungers Games” and “Creed” are hanging on, doing well against the competition, with “Creed” at nearly $88 million to date.
Two surprises were the 9th and 10th place finish for two new Bollywood films, “Dilwale” and “Bajirano Mastani,” once again proving that there is always a market for a specialized film promoted exclusively to a particular audience. Something that independent black filmmakers should make note of and use to their advantage.
1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens BV $238,000,000
2) Alvin and the Chipmunks The Road Chip Fox $14,400,000
3) Sisters Uni. $13,420,000
4) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 LGF $5,650,000 Total: $254,438,774
5) Creed NL $5,085,000 – Total: $87,900,073
6) The Good Dinosaur BV $4,305,000 Total: $96,619,068
7) Krampus Uni. $3,780,000 Total: $34,810,655
8) In the Heart of the Sea WB $3,465,000 Total: $18,600,095
9) Dilwale UTV $1,875,000
10) Bajirao Mastani Eros $1,660,000
11) Spotlight ORF $1,483,167 Total: $22,861,193
12) Spectre Sony $1,445,000 Total: $193,921,132