Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars film of the Disney era, was clearly a historic box office triumph going back to its release last December. The film opened by breaking domestic records for opening day and weekend, later becoming the fastest release ever to earn $1 billion worldwide. By early January, just three weeks after its release, The Force Awakens overtook Avatar to become the highest-grossing domestic release of all time.
The length of a movie’s theatrical run is generally determined by how well it performs initially, and the rate of audience dropoff. Some movies shuffle quietly out of theaters after only a few weeks, while others can hold on for months. Unsurprisingly, The Force Awakens fell into the latter category, and has only just closed out its theatrical release.
Now, with the film finally exiting theaters, The Force Awakens has its final box office tally, according to Box Office Mojo: The film earned $936,662,225 domestically in its 168 days in theaters. That number places it about $176 million ahead of next-highest grossing film, 2009’s Avatar:
How The Force Awakens succeeded to this degree is certainly no mystery. The Star Wars name and mythology means a great deal to a whole lot of people, of multiple generations. And on top of that, the movie was actually good, likely leading to positive word of mouth and lots of repeat business. Yes, some fans quibbled with various aspects of the film, but there was never the same widespread backlash that greeted George Lucas’ prequel trilogy.
However, despite its status as #1 domestically, The Force Awakens remains the third highest-grossing film in terms of worldwide box office with just over $2 billion. This puts it behind Avatar and James Cameron’s other hit, 1997’s Titanic. After adjusting for inflation, The Force Awakens comes in 11th, with Gone with the Wind #1 and 1977’s original Star Wars #2.
If nothing else, the towering box office success shows just how well Disney’s decision to purchase Lucasfilm in the fall of 2012 has worked out. The domestic box office alone themselves represent almost one quarter of the $4 billion purchase price, which is to say nothing for all the income Disney has brought in from merchandising, video games, those little Mickey Mouse hats shaped like R2-D2’s head, and everything else. Plus, there’s a seemingly endless series of other Star Wars movies still to come, starting with this year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Might one of them overtake The Force Awakens, or even Avatar?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Box Office Mojo