Steven Spielberg recently told 60 Minutes, “Oh, J.J. [Abrams] is terrified. There’s a lot of pressure on him to start paying Disney back for … the franchise they bought from George Lucas.” Of course there is. Disney paid $4 billion for LucasFilms in 2013. In the years since, there have been plenty of new Disney-branded Star Wars comics books, novels, untold levels of merchandise and an on-going animated series (Star Wars Rebels), but it can so easily fall apart if The Force Awakens fails to not only awaken but also maintain worldwide interest in the brand. The years of marketing and hype have helped turned this into feeling like one of the biggest movies of all-time, but now it has to actually perform like one of the biggest films of all-time.
So far so good because The Force Awakens just set a bunch of box office records (suck it, Jurassic World). In fact, it might have set even more because the actual weekend box office totals don’t come out until tomorrow afternoon. However, according to the weekend estimates these are the new Force Awakens records:
Biggest Thursday-night previews ($57 million)
- Previous Record Holder: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($43.5 million)
Biggest Single Day/Opening Day/Friday ($120.5m)
- Previous Record Holder: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($91m)
Biggest IMAX Opening Weekend (Domestic) – $30.1m
- Previous Record Holder: Jurassic World (20.9m)
Biggest IMAX Opening Weekend (Worldwide) – $48m
- Previous Record Holder: Jurassic World ($44.1m)
Biggest Opening Weekend in December ($238m)
- Previous Record Holder: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($84.6m)
Biggest All-Time Opening Weekend (Domestic) – $238m
- Previous Record Holder: Jurassic World ($208.8m)
Best Per-Theater Average Among Wide Releases – $57,571 per 4,134 theaters
- Previous Record Holder: Jurassic World ($48,855 per 4,247 theaters)
Fastest to $100m/$150m/$200m
- Previous Record Holder in All 3 Categories: Jurassic World
A Close Second (or Third or Fourth)
Third Biggest Saturday ($68.7m)
- Current Record Holders: Jurassic World ($69.6m) & The Avengers ($69.5m)
Fourth Biggest Sunday ($48.8m)
- Current Record Holders: Jurassic World ($57.2m), The Avengers ($57m) & Avengers: Age of Ultron ($50.3m)
Second Biggest Opening Weekend in the UK ($48.9m)
- Current Record Holder: Spectre ($63.7m)
Third Biggest Opening Weekend (Combined International) – $279m
- Current Record Holders – Jurassic World ($316m) and Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($314m)
Second Biggest Opening Weekend (Worldwide) – $517m
- Current Record Holder: Jurassic World ($524.9m)
To be fair, Jurassic World had the benefit of China during its opening weekend whereas The Force Awakens doesn’t debut there until Jan. 9.
Force Awakens reportedly also set opening day/weekend records in multiple individual countries, such as Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.
So, J.J. can take a big sigh of relief. At this point, there’s no telling where The Force Awakens will end up, although The Los Angeles Times predicts a worldwide gross as high as $2.6 billion which would put it just behind Avatar for the most all-time.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, Disney’s stock price took a hit over the weekend, even with The Force Awakens clearly entering into uncharted box office territory. It turns out that ESPN’s continually shrinking subscriber base combined with its ever-rising licensing costs to the various professional and collegiate sports leagues has Wall Street pessimistic about the Mouse House. Way to drop the ball, ESPN.