There's no denying that Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is a bona fide box office phenomenon, setting several records since its release on December 18, 2015. The film became the quickest to $1 billion worldwide, and has shattered Avatar's all-time domestic record, raking in $815.8 million in the States alone. For Disney, this is a fabulous start to the new era of the galaxy far, far away on film, after they spent $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm back in 2012.
As Star Wars 7 rewrites history, there's one record that isn't made to be broken right now. While The Force Awakens was able to overcome Avatar in North America, James Cameron will remain the king of the world, since his film's global box office mark is safe for the time being.
According to THR, analysts are projecting Episode VII will end up as the second highest-grossing film of all-time, being sandwiched between two Cameron epics, Avatar and Titanic. With $1.7 billion accumulated worldwide, Star Wars is on track to finish somewhere in the $2.1 billion to $2.3 billion range (with the rosiest projections at $2.4 billion). This means that it should be able to top Titanic's $2.19 billion, but Avatar's whopping $2.7 billion intake is too much for even the power of the Force.
The reasoning cited for this is that The Force Awakens is not performing all that strongly in parts of Asia and Latin America. Star Wars 7 opened in China on January 9, 2016, and relatively speaking its debut weekend in the country underwhelmed. It brought in $52.3 million, which is "only" the 20th highest-grossing opening weekend in the country. It's a far cry from other blockbusters of the past year, such as Furious 7 ($182.4 million), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($155.7 million), and Jurassic World ($99.1 million). The Force Awakens was also heavily front-loaded early in its run, whereas Avatar displayed strong legs for a period of a couple of months. Many expect Star Wars to be a faster burn.
Even though Star Wars will fall short of achieving complete box office dominance, it doesn't mean any tears should be shed for the Mouse House. If everything goes according to plan, Episode VII will end up as just the third member of the far more exclusive $2 billion club, and Disney will have recouped half of what they paid for Lucasfilm in just a single theatrical film release (with plenty more on the way). Star Wars has also generated copious amounts of revenue for Disney via merchandising, The Force Awakens will make even more money when it's released on home media, and the Star Wars additions at Disneyland will only lead to more profits. Simply put, this is one of the greatest investments in Hollywood history and there's no telling how high it can go.
By all accounts, The Force Awakens may have even surpassed Disney's expectations. A 60 Minutes report that aired days before the film's release stated that Episode VII had to make $1.5 billion worldwide to be considered a success. In less than a month, it's surpassed that and continues to add to its astronomical totals. There's even an outside chance it crosses $1 billion just domestically. From many perspectives, Star Wars 7's commercial performance was unprecedented, and with interest already high in the forthcoming installments, the billions should keep coming in.
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.