Some of the dust clouds may have settled, but the anticipation hasn’t. Each day brings us one step closer to the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it’s no exaggeration to say that expectations couldn’t be higher. While some are holding their breath with the expectations that Episode VII will bring nothing but disappointment, many are beginning to believe that this new film could actually bring a new hope for this generation. (Groan…)
There’s nothing better than going to a big movie opening weekend, and Star Wars is about as big as it gets. Even those who were disappointed by the prequel trilogy still were swept away by the excitement when the lights dimmed on opening night. People who are still awaiting secret Jar Jar cameos should give it a rest. (If you loved the prequels, don’t worry, I’m not going to rip on you.) The franchise has been given a huge makeover, thanks in no small part to director J.J. Abrams and returning writer Lawrence Kasdan. (Fangirling!) We’re getting almost an entirely new entity that still has the spirit of the original trilogy.
Despite the awesome trailers and flawless marketing campaign, there are still people trashing the film and its fans well in advance of the release. Don’t worry folks. We’re not going to be getting into any fan bashing here. I’m one of you, and unlike some “too cool for the room” writers out there, I think that this movie is indeed poised to be one of the biggest hits of all time.
In fact, I’m going to go there. I think that all signs are pointing to the biggest movie blockbuster of all time. Let’s delve into some box office predictions, shall we?
Ordinarily, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a film that wouldn’t need a ton of help generating a buzz. First off, it’s the first direct sequel to one of the most popular trilogies of all time. Name recognition would be more than enough to shatter the opening weekend record for December. Secondly, you’ve got a fantastic new cast, a terrific writer,and a megafan in the director’s chair. When you add on the flawless marketing campaign executed by Lucasfilm and Disney and the returning characters like Han and Leia, we’re left with a fever pitch that goes beyond mere hype.
The marketing for The Force Awakens has been one of the most beautifully executed campaigns I’ve ever seen. We’re only 50 days away, and we’ve been given next to nothing in terms of plot. In an era where most trailers give away the entire film in the first thirty seconds, all we know are the names of some characters, the time period it takes place, and that it’s still all about good versus evil.
Smashing the Pre-Sale Records
Unless you were living under a rock last week, you heard about how advanced ticket sales for Episode VII shattered more than just our expectations. It damn nearly broke the internet. At one point, every ticket website offering tickets from AMC to Fandango had crashed. The demand didn’t come to an end after Monday Night Football had come to an end. Sales continued strong the next morning as the number of sold out opening night shows sailed past 1,000.
Until last week, the winner in the pre-sale tickets category was The Hunger Games franchise, which is no small name. Star Wars beat it eight times over. Not once, not twice, but eight freaking times over! Not only did the pre-sale shatter regular records, but IMAX records as well! In point of fact, IMAX pre-sales made over $6.8 million. That’s nothing short of amazing. Collider Video’s John Campea likened to Darryl Sittler’s record 10 points in one NHL game, a record that has stood for over 40 years. (As someone who isn’t much of a sports guy, I’ll take his word for it.)
Let’s put it another way. This movie made more in pre-sale tickets over the last week than the majority of movies that debuted at the box office over the weekend. BOOM.
The Curiosity Factor
Pre-sale numbers like that show that this has crossed over from being just a thing for fans, to a full-blown pop culture phenomenon. It’s become one of those events that everyone wants to be a part of, much like films like Jurassic Park and Titanic were years ago.
While the general movie-going audience is curious about the spectacle, fans are curious about the elements of the film that are still sealed tightly in J.J. Abrams’ Mystery Box. Each day, the speculation about what kind of role Luke Skywalker will play in the film continues to grow. Because he was largely let out of the trailers (not to mention the official poster), fans are left out in the cold to speculate, which is dangerous.
Lack of Competition
Aside from the occasional Oscar bait flick (which typically don’t rake in oodles of cash), Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be free of any appreciable competition when it debuts on December 18th. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip moved up its release date purposely to the same date. Either they studio is inherently masochistic, or they are really hoping to cash in on the counter programming angle.
By the time Han and Chewie are flying the Millenium Falcon across the big screen, big films like Spectre and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II will have run their course. On December 18, there will be nothing to stand in the way, which is a good thing, because nothing would stand much of a chance anyways.
Return of the Fanboys
Remember those fanboys that we mentioned earlier? They’re coming over the hill, and they won’t stop until they get their fill of Jedi, Star Destroyers, and find out what the hell happened to Luke Skywalker. For the first time in 33 years, it looks like we’re going to be getting a Star Wars film that looks and feels like the Star Wars we all love.
With that being said, people who may have only gone once (or skipped altogether) going to see the prequels in theaters are definitely going to be heading for their local cinema. Some are so eager to see the movie opening night that they are buying tickets off of eBay for $1,000 or more. Yes, you read that right.
You think I’m going to be seeing it just on opening night? Hell no. My wife and I may go half a dozen times, and we’re not alone. This is the film that will not only call all generations of Star Wars fans to action, but draft millions of new ones as well. This movie is going to be massive, and no amount of naysayers on Reddit or the New York Post can stop that from happening.
Fans in the Americas and Europe are understandably psyched, but Chinese fans have taken it to a whole other level, showing off their excitement a few days ago with an army of Stormtroopers taking over the Great Wall of China. Now that Chinese audiences have finally been allowed to see the franchise, they’re going to be hungry for more.
So what kind of numbers are we talking about here? Jurassic World enjoyed a mammoth opening weekend, taking in $208 million domestically. The Force Awakens can easily beat that, especially with the kind of numbers it’s putting up already. I’m comfortable assuming that the movie does somewhere in the $220 million range domestically, and upwards of $600 million globally.
When you combine the weather, lack of competition, hype, and the way that word of mouth will spread after it premieres, I believe that this film will take the title for highest grossing movie of all time. It may just creep over the current leader, or it could blow the record wide open. We’ll soon see.
Do you expect Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the biggest movie of all time? Does your personal box office prediction sense tell you that it will only take the silver or bronze? Do you already have your ticket in hand? Let us know in the comments section below!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go stare at the How Many Days Until Star Wars countdown clock.