On October 19th, Disney and Lucasfilm unveiled the third and final full-length trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and used the buzz of its release to begin selling advanced tickets. The buzz for the film all year long has been as strong as the Force and just as the trailer broke viewing records, so to were advanced ticket sales records broken.
It wasn't a surprise given the success of Disney's #ForceFriday merchandise campaign to unveil and sell Star Wars 7 toys and seeing frequent reports of how the return of the saga has paid for itself already in licensing deals. Lucrative partnerships are helping do all the promotion work for Disney so they don't even need to. Star Wars sells itself as they say and already, a month before The Force Awakens opens in theaters, it's made over $50 million in ticket sales.
According to THR, in North America alone, Star Wars 7 has earned more than $50 million just from advanced ticket sales. That's already double the previous record holder in The Dark Knight Rises. And you can expect similar successes overseas. Of the pre-ordered seats, approximately a third of the sales are coming from just IMAX tickets - and while there are widespread reports of sold out theaters in certain locations, and nasty overpriced eBay re-sellers, there are loads of seats still available across the continent.
This raises the question again of just how much money Star Wars will make in its returning episode. Back in August, despite Disney CEO Bob Iger attempting to play down expectations, early and bold estimates saw Star Wars 7 potentially earning as much as $300 million in its opening weekend domestically and nearly $315 million overseas, dwarfing the current record holder in Jurassic World which brought in $208 million in N. America ($524.4 million worldwide total) this summer in its debut to nudge out Marvel's Avengers $207 million opening domestic haul in 2012.
More recent, and arguably more realistic numbers see Star Wars 7 at $225 million or $250 million locally but the wide range is difficult to narrow because of the history of smaller opening weekends in December when families are typically busy for the holiday season. These films (including the biggest movie ever in Avatar) make their money in the final weeks of the year and beyond, historically. Even the record holder for the month, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, only brought in $85 million in its opening by comparison. Star Wars aims to change all of that forever.
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The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, 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.