Expectations Are High For The New ‘Star Wars’ Movie, Can It Outdo ‘Avatar’ At The Box Office?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens box office expectations

Expectations are very high for the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie opening in theaters on Friday, but will it meet or exceed those expectations? It’s currently setting records for pre-opening ticket sales. Does that mean it might be the biggest selling movie of all time?

Signs point in the direction of Star Wars exceeding all expectations, but according to CNBC website, there is no guarantee that it will. It’s the first new Star Wars movie in a decade and the first to be made without creator George Lucas. Three years ago, Lucas sold his empire to The Walt Disney Company for $4 billion.

As of now, Star Wars is on pace to have the biggest December opening ever. It is expected to even top The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which brought in profits of $85 million in the United States and Canada when it opened in December of 2012.

Fandango, the ticket seller confirms that advance ticket sales for the new Star Wars movie has already topped every other movie. Imax has sold enough receipts to account for a third of pre-release sales.

“Avatar is the movie with the biggest gross sales of all time, with $2.8 billion worldwide. To beat Avatar, fans will have to love it enough to tell other people about it and love it enough to watch it multiple times this next year.”

Star Wars won’t have much competition for several months. Marvel’s Deadpool won’t be released until mid-February and Warner Bros., Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice won’t be out until late March.

“I think it’s going to own January,” said Erik Davis, managing editor of Fandango, one of the nation’s largest online ticket retailers. “I know one guy who has nine tickets to see it in the first week alone. That’s what we’re talking about.”

A single ticket to watch the new Star Wars movie may cost $25 or even more if you want to watch it in Imax or 3-D.

According to entertainment news website Movieplot Inc., social media has been putting up big numbers too.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, had 405 million trailer and teaser views on Facebook and YouTube a month ago after they were released on social media: that’s 87 percent more than Jurassic World, which opened with record ticket sales of $208.8 million dollars and holds the No. 3 spot and Titanic is still at the number two spot with $2.1 billion in sales.

According to Movieplot, Google searches have been higher for the Star Wars movie than they were for Jurassic World too. Jurassic World had 51,800 searches a month before it was released. The new Star Wars movie has had 178,000 searches in the last few weeks.

“People are searching and craving and demanding content,” Moviepilot CEO Tobi Bauckhage said. “That’s a very strong signal.”

New Star Wars movie expectations

The Walt Disney Company, which owns Star Wars, declined to comment.

Even though expectations are high, advance sales don’t always mean the movie will have record sales. The Hunger Games was a leader in advance sales, but ended up with gross sales of $693 million, which is not even in the all-time top 10.

A benefit of the new Star Wars movie is that the interest in this kind of movie now spans multiple generations. Star Wars will also have a bigger Chinese box office to tap. Avatar put up numbers of $204 million in China through 2010, but the theatrical market is much bigger now.

But although expectations are high, no one has actually seen the movie yet.

“The brand name alone and the excitement for the franchise will get huge numbers in the door,” Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “But for very long-term prospects, you have to have a movie that delivers.”

[Image via Lucasfilm]