A bit more than three years ago The Walt Disney Company bought the rights to Star Wars from the creator George Lucas for a whopping $4 billion. With such a big investment, it was critical for the new Star Wars movie to be a success, but little did anyone know the extent to which this purchase would “shatter box offices” and amplify revenue. After years of working on the project, on the night of December 17, 2015, movie theaters across the United States began showing Disney’s new creation Star Wars: The Force Awakens. No doubt, the film was a huge success as “the Force” was strong throughout the country. The movie opened with $57 million and sold more than $100 million in tickets before the premiere. The following day the movie drew in a total of $120.5 million thus becoming the first film ever to gross $100 million in only one day.
Amid all this money and craze a big debate hangs over whether this newest member of the Star Wars franchise will surpass the 2011 hit Avatar to become the highest grossing movie ever. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already beaten Avatar to become the biggest domestic movie of all time, but trails in third place globally with $1.73 billion following Titanic ($2.19 billion) and Avatar ($2.79 billion). Now with the opening in China on Saturday, January 9, 2016, the film definitely has the chance to take first place. The Force Awakens earned about $53 million over the course of the weekend, thus becoming China’s largest Saturday/Sunday opening ever and beating Avatar. Part of this success can be attributed to Disney’s hard work over the past year to familiarize the Chinese with the franchise. Such efforts include broadcasting the movie trailer on the Great Wall and lining up 500 Stormtroopers at the Wall, as well as asking local pop star Lu Han to help promote the movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Stormtroopers at the Great Wall
Even without the China release, Episode VII reached $150 million in a record 19 days, whereas Avatar took 47 days and this included a China release. Other statistics continue to pour in, adding to this debate. For example, Avatar took 72 days to gross $700 million while The Force Awakens only took 16 days. In addition, people really liked the movie, giving it a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Avatar follows with a 83% rating. When asked whether they prefer Avatar or Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rosemarie Bingham ’18 noted that she prefers Star Wars because she “was introduced to it really young and has been a fan since she was little and has grown up with it.” Kate McCarthy ’18 added she “likes the action and characters of Star Wars and was a little creeped out by Avatar.” With all of this in mind, it is predicted the final income of the movie will be above $3 billion and will indeed become the highest grossing movie of all time.
Regardless of whether or not this achievement will be made, Disney’s purchase of Lucas Films was definitely a smart decision. In addition to the movie’s profit, the company will continue to make income off of upcoming sequels in the trilogy as well as the huge merchandise revenue. This merchandise spans from paraphernalia like the iconic light sabers, articles of clothing like socks and watches, to ads on soda pop, chips, and other snacks. On September 4, 2015, labeled “Force Friday” Force Awakens items began to be sold across the country. On this day alone sales were around $1 million. This clearly portrays that fans everywhere are going crazy for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So much so that the newest Star Wars addition may be the highest grossing movie in any galaxy near or far, far away.
Star Wars Merchandise (photo by Bebe Hodges '18)
Star Wars Socks (photo by Abby Galloway '18)
Star Wars Socks (photo by Maddie Gerding '18)