From the moment Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens was announced, everybody knew it was going to be a massive box office hit. The only question was how high could the film go? Disney obviously had great expectations for J.J. Abrams' movie; a 60 Minutes report that aired days before Star Wars 7 premiered stated that it needed to make $1.5 billion globally at the minimum in order to be considered a success.
Mouse House executives can certainly rest easy now. The Force Awakens is rewriting the record book in every conceivable way, and recently became the fastest film to hit $1 billion worldwide. Now, it's set another all-time mark: largest IMAX gross.
THR broke the news, saying that Episode VII has now made $106 million worldwide from IMAX screenings alone. The film reached that figure in just 12 days. Once again, Star Wars has passed Jurassic World, which took 18 days to make $100 million from IMAX when it was released this past summer.
When counting only the premium format, The Force Awakens grossed $18.6 million this weekend from 391 domestic IMAX screens. Another $8.6 million came from 282 IMAX screens in foreign countries. As of this writing, Star Wars 7 has grossed $70 million from North American IMAX and $36.4 million overseas. That international figure will grow exponentially in the coming weeks. Episode VII does not hit Chinese theaters until January 9, and it will also premiere across the IMAX network into February. With Star Wars so early in its run, there really is no limit to how much it could bring in by the time it's all said and done.
Viewers should not be surprised that Star Wars was able to break IMAX records, seeing that the film had an unprecedented release in those theaters. It literally has a monopoly on all domestic IMAX screens during the first few weeks of its release, and it's playing on most international IMAX screens. Chalk this one up to perfect timing on Disney's part. The Force Awakens is the only real blockbuster that's currently playing and has minimal competition at the multiplex right now. Cinephiles may be interested in catching up on the various awards contenders opening, but many of those are not made for IMAX and won't take away slots from Star Wars. Combine that with the repeat viewing factor, this is just the tip of the iceberg for the film's cumulative box office haul.
The only real drama left is to see if Star Wars 7 can top Avatar's all-time mark, which is $2.7 billion worldwide. The Force Awakens is currently at $1.08 billion globally, so it still has a ways to go (even though it's substantially ahead where Avatar was at a similar point in its run). As long as Episode VII continues to display strong legs commercially (its 39.8 percent drop during its second weekend is a good indicator it will), it should be able to challenge James Cameron's epic in a way no other film has in the previous six years. Disney could conceivably recoup more than half of their $4 billion investment with just a single movie.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.