‘Star Wars’ Is About to Break Records for Breaking Records

Here’s a look at which box office milestones “The Force Awakens” will smash — and which ones it won’t

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will not only break records — every pre-release indicator suggests it will shatter, batter and stomp them into pieces when it opens on Friday, Dec. 18.

Exhibit A would be the advance ticket sales.

On Oct. 19, the first day fans could pony up, “The Force Awakens” outsold previous single-day record-holder “The Hunger Games” by an 8-to-1 margin at online broker Fandango, and by a 10-to-1 margin at MovieTickets.com. It was 10-to-1 at AMC Theaters, too. No film had ever done $1 million in advance IMAX theater sales, but “The Force Awakens” did, with $6.5 million. One month later, advance sales totaled $50 million, another record.

And then there are the trailers. The latest one dropped by Disney and LucasFilm generated a record 112 million views in just 24 hours. Since Nov. 2014, when the first teaser was released online, official trailers, teasers and other snippets for ‘The Force Awakens’ have generated over 223 million views for the main “Star Wars” accounts on Facebook and YouTube, according to digital data tracker Tubular.

But the box office numbers will provide the most intrigue as “The Force Awakens” takes its best shot at making history.

Projections are tricky, since we don’t know how many theaters will screen “The Force Awakens.” We’ll speculate 4,470, since “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” rolled out in 4,468 in 2010. That would be another record.

Here are some of the key marks that will, should and could fall before the power of the Force:

Thursday night preview showings

The old record was $43.5 million, set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2010. Given the advance numbers on “The Force Awakens,” we’ll consider this one toast.

Day 1

That big preview led to the single-day opening record for young Harry, at $91 million. We’ll bet that with the record Thursday night, this one will fall, too, en route to making “The Force Awakens” the first movie ever to take in $100 million on its first day. This will set the tone for the weekend. If it falls short of the mark, it’s unlikely the opening weekend record will fall.


“Jurassic World” brought in $69.6 million in June. If “The Force Awakens” starts as fast as we think it will on Friday, even an average hold would fell this record. If ever there was a “review-proof” movie, this is it, but terrific notices will generate similar word of mouth, which would super-charge Saturday.


This marks belongs to the big lizards too, at $57.2 million. If Friday and Saturday set records, this is a fait accompli.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Opening Weekend

This is one of the biggies. The current mark is $208.8 million, set by “Jurrasic World,” and there’s great debate over whether a film opening in December can possibly overtake the debut of a film that rolls out in summer, when kids are out of school, potential moviegoers aren’t holiday shopping and no one is socked in by bad weather. The December record is $86.1 million, set by “The Hobbit” in 2012, and even Disney’s conservative projections have it doubling this mark. No film has ever opened to $100 million in December.

Every actor and crew member’s personal bests

Director J.J. Abrams‘ biggest opening weekend so far was 2013’s “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” with $70.1 million, which will likely be history after this film’s first day.

Worldwide opening weekend

This one is also held by “Jurassic World,” at $524 million. The global mark could be difficult to crack, because the dinos’ haul included Chinese returns and “The Force Awakens” won’t hit Beijing until Jan. 9. It opens in virtually every other international market, however.


Since this will be the first time a “Stars Wars” film has been seen behind the Great Wall, it should challenge the single day ($63 million) and opening weekend ($182 million) marks set earlier this year by “Furious 7.” Universal went all out for the China mark and was granted a rare Sunday opening, which meant Saturday night previews; “Star Wars” will open on Saturday in China, and will get a similar boost from Friday night.

Second weekend

The plot thickens here. Neither “Avatar” nor “Titanic,” the James Cameron films that rank 1 and 2 on the all-time worldwide box office list, set opening weekend records. They became the top grossers on the strength of remarkable holds. After opening to $77 million on the same Dec. 18 weekend in 2009, “Avatar” took in $75 million on its second weekend dropping a negligible 1.8 percent, a record. That sounds tough, particularly since there will be no Thursday early shows to swell the second-week grosses for “Star Wars.” But Disney thinks it has a shot because many more kids — 85 percent of students will be out of school, as opposed to 15 percent for the opening — will be free for the second weekend.

Fastest to $1 billion globally

Barring catastrophe, it’s only a matter of time until “The Force Awakens” reaches the milestone. “Jurassic World” took 13 days to do it earlier this year.


avatar.Worldwide gross overall

“Avatar” is the film to beat with $2.78 billion, followed by “Titanic” ($2.18 billion) and “Jurassic World” ($1.66 billion). If “The Force Awakens” gets a start anywhere near that of “Jurassic World,” or holds like Cameron’s two blockbusters, the growth of the foreign markets will lift it into the top position.

Franchise gross

The “Star Wars” franchise is currently fourth on the all-time list with $1.91 billion, behind James Bond ($2.09 billion), Harry Potter ($2.39 billion) and the No. 1 Marvel Cinematic Universe ($3.59 billion). If “The Force Awakens” hits $2 billion, the franchise will claim the top spot, but with Disney planning more sequels in the latter two series over the coming years, this battle could rage for a long time.

There are doubtless more records that will fall or be challenged by “Star Wars.” But one is probably Most Articles About Prospects for Record-Breaking, so we’ll quit here.