From the moment it was announced in 2012, everyone knew that Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens would be a box office hit. The only question was how high could it go. It's funny to think about now, but at one point, the film's December release was actually seen as a potential roadblock. Prior to Star Wars 7, no movie that debuted in that month made $100+ million in its first three days, even though some of the biggest films of all-time opened over the holiday season.
The arrival of The Force Awakens changed everything, and it went on to have one of the most unprecedented box office runs ever. It blew the opening weekend mark out of the water with an astonishing $247.9 million domestically and kept rewriting the record books as more and more people went to see it. Eight weeks into its release, Star Wars 7 is still crossing milestones, posting numbers few movies have seen before.
In a press release, Disney announced that Episode VII will cross $900 million domestically in just the 50th day of release. It is the first film in history to reach that figure, adding to its all-time record in the States. In addition, on Saturday, February 6 (the 53rd day of global release), The Force Awakens will become just the third movie to gross $2 billion at the worldwide box office, and only the second to do so in its original theatrical run. James Cameron's Titanic crossed that plateau, but only after a 3D re-release in 2012.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn commented on the film's commercial prowess, showing appreciation to all who worked on the project and the Star Wars fans that supported it:
“This is a historic moment for Star Wars, for Lucasfilm, and for Disney, and all of us here are extremely gratified to be a part of this journey with fans around the world who have made Star Wars: The Force Awakens such an extraordinary success. The film’s achievements are truly astounding, and it’s our great honor to relaunch this cinematic galaxy not only for all the devoted decades-long fans but for a new generation who will keep the Star Wars legacy alive for many years to come.”
The most recent achievements of $900 million domestically and $2 billion globally are just the latest in a long list of records and other impressive accomplishments The Force Awakens has managed since its premiere. These include:
- Biggest domestic preview gross ($57 million)
- Biggest opening day domestically ($119.1 million)
- Biggest domestic second weekend ($149.2 million)
- Biggest domestic third weekend ($90.2 million)
- Biggest opening week domestically ($390.8 million)
- Biggest opening weekend in 18 territories: U.K. (4-day), Australia, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria,
- Poland (3-day), Denmark (5-day), Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ukraine, Iceland, Serbia, New Zealand
- Fastest film to $1B globally (12 days)
- Biggest film of all time in the U.S. and the U.K.
In addition to being the first new Star Wars film in more than a decade, The Force Awakens was bolstered by incredibly positive word-of-mouth. The movie scored enthusiastic reviews across the board, earning praise for being the return-to-form that fans craved. It even picked up minor awards buzz, being recognized by the American Film Institute and the Critics' Choice Awards as one of 2015's best films. That response helped Star Wars 7 reach these heights, since the strong critical reaction encouraged repeat viewings and gave the movie long legs as winter progressed.
The film also took great advantage of the limited competition it faced. Opening in December meant Star Wars 7 avoided the typically packed summer frame and essentially had the marketplace to itself. Awards contenders like The Revenant and The Big Short have posted respectable numbers during their runs, but nothing was coming close to Star Wars since there weren't any other tentpoles that dared to challenge it. It's no surprise that Lucasfilm is now eyeing December as the franchise's new home, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars 8 set to launch over the next two holiday seasons. Once again, the Force is strong with Hollywood, and it looks like The Force Awakens is just the beginning.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.