Although many analysts believed that 2015 would see a record-setting performance in the movie industry, this year’s success will be largely determined by the performance of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to Variety, the upcoming Star Wars movie needs to make around $1.5 billion in order to break the previous overall sales record of $10.9 billion, which was set back in 2013.
As it currently stands, the industry has sold around $10 billion in ticket sales. Although this is a slight improvement over the sales in 2014, most analysts predicted that the movie lineup in 2015 would shatter the previous record of $11 billion. With so much riding on Star Wars, it may be difficult for the box office to reach its goals.
“It’s going to be pretty tough to surpass $11 billion,” MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler stated. “We still have a shot at a record number, but $11 billion looks overly optimistic.”
According to Deadline, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to make anywhere between $185 and $220 million in the United States in its opening weekend. In comparison, Disney’s Jurassic World opened with an astonishing $208 million in America, while managing to gross $316 million in overseas sales. Taken together, Star Wars would have to take in some $525 million worldwide in order to break Jurassic World’s record for opening sales.
Luckily, Star Wars will be opening in a variety of theaters throughout the world, which should offer plenty of opportunities for a record-shattering opening. This includes over 3,000 3D screens, close to 400 IMAX locations — a record for IMAX releases — around 450 Large Format displays, and 146 D-Box screens. If fans show up in mass like many are predicting, then Star Wars has a legitimate chance in breaking some records when it hits theaters this week.
That being said, whether or not Star Wars is able to make enough money to break the 2013 box office record is difficult to determine.
“We are literally neck and neck with 2013 at this point,” a senior analyst for Rentrak stated. “It’s all Star Wars dependent. It comes down to how much money within this calendar year can that movie inject into the marketplace?”
Although a lot is riding on Star Wars, the movie industry was not helped by other films that were released in 2015. In fact, movies that were a major disappointment this year include The Good Dinosaur, Pan, and In the Heart of the Sea. Furthermore, although The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 proved to be a success at the box office, it still fell short of expectations. The same is true with Spectre, which did not gross as much money as other movies in the James Bond franchise.
If Star Wars fails to generate enough sales in the last two weeks of December, then it could mean a significant drop in growth for the industry. This, in turn, could bleed into the price of theater chains on Wall Street, which have already taken a hit this year.
In the end, only time will tell if Star Wars: The Force Awakens proves to make enough money in ticket sales to break the all-time record set in 2013. Fortunately, the month of December has traditionally been a highly successful month for the box office. In fact, two of the record setting films of all-time, Avatar and Titanic, both premiered in December. With Star Wars having such a dedicated fan base, it is possible that the movie will set new records for December.
The Force Awakens is scheduled to be released in theaters on December 18.
Tell us! Do you think that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be able to rake in enough money to be considered a success? Let us know in the comments below.
[Image via LucasFilm]