‘Star Wars’ $50 Million Advance Sales, Online Buzz Put Record Opening Within Reach

“The Force Awakens” is dominating social media, with quadruple the combined Twitter numbers of “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has posted a record $50 million in advance ticket sales. And J.J. Abrams‘ film is also dwarfing blockbusters “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: The Age of Ultron” in social-media engagement, suggesting a possible record-breaking opening weekend come December 18. t

That’s when Disney plans to release the first installment in Lucasfilm’s sci-fi series in more than a decade on 4,000-plus theaters. There’s no guarantee that the online buzz, revealed Thursday by Moviepilot, will translate into box office when “Star Wars VII” opens. But it seems certain “The Force Awakens” will at least take a run at the record.

“Jurassic World” established the opening weekend standard with a $208.8 million this past June, breaking the record of $207.4 million set by “Marvel’s The Avengers” in May of 2012. The December release date — when consumers are shopping and bad weather can be a factor  — and some real competition are the only reasons there’s any doubt the mark will fall.

Twitter offers one of the clearest pictures of just how hot “The Force Awakens” is. Roughly one month before its release, the movie generated an astounding 1 million tweets and 470,000 re-tweets in one week — approximately four times the number generated by “Jurassic World” and “Age of Ultron” combined.

“The data Moviepilot is seeing from Star Wars is unprecedented,” chief executive Tobi Bauckhage told TheWrap. “What’s most impressive is the command of an existing fan base coupled with the arrival of a brand new audience with equal passion.”

“Star Wars” had generated more than 405 million trailer and clip views between Facebook and YouTube, according to Moviepoint. “Jurassic World” generated about 217 million views, and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” 258 million views.

“Star Wars” has also rung up roughly three times the number of Google searches (178,000) as “Jurassic World” (51,800), another legacy reboot.

“That means they’re actively getting online and looking for ‘Star Wars,’ which shows not only interest, but intent,” said Bauckhage, who founded Moviepilot in 2007.

Disney’s marketing campaign has a lot to do with that, he said.

“The focus on the ‘Star Wars’ world and the references to the earlier films and stars, rather than the story line, has been brilliant,” Bauckhage said.  “And the secrecy surrounding it has stoked real passion and has the fans leaning forward. This isn’t casual interest, it’s real enthusiasm.”

“Star Wars” will shatter the opening weekend record, Bauckhage believes.

“With such pervasive engagement across a variety of digital metrics, there’s every reason to think ‘Star Wars’ will not only break ‘Jurassic World’s’ opening weekend record, but do so comfortably,” he said.

Early analysis was split on this point. Many reporters and observers, including this one, were skeptical. No movie has broken $100 million in December — the record is the $84.8 million debut of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in 2012 — and “Star Wars” could be slowed by inclement weather and tough competition.

“The Force Awakens” opens against Universal’s R-rated Amy PoehlerTina Fey comedy “Sisters” and Fox’s kids film “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip.”

“The only competition ‘for Stars Wars’ are the original ‘Star Wars’ movies,” said BoxOffice.com analyst Shawn Robbins, whose site has the space epic debuting to more than $200 million.

“The social media numbers make clear that we are dealing with a movie that is going to be something really special,” Robbins said. “If the reviews are good and fans get the word that (director) J.J. Abrams is going to deliver a real ‘Star Wars’ classic, it could go through the roof.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the advance sales figure.