If Internet buzz is any indication, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to be pretty popular, maybe even the biggest global launch in film history. To reach those record numbers, though, it's going to have to launch in a whole lot of theaters.
The previous record holder for highest number of screens on opening day was The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which brought cinema's most famous love triangle between a human, werewolf, and sparkly vampire to no less than 4,465 theaters. That was back in 2010, and that record has yet to be beat.
According to The Wrap, the Force will not be strong enough with Star Wars 7 to overcome that record. The newest entry in the Star Wars saga will be launching in a comparatively modest 4,100 theaters, a full 365 theaters fewer than were graced with Kristen Stewart's lovelorn scowls. The likely culprit for the difference is that Star Wars 7 is opening in winter rather than the summer movie season, which has resulted in somewhat reduced box office expectations from some, despite the movie's high profile.
No matter how high the anticipation for the movie might be, the fact remains that the winter movie season is traditionally a significantly lower earner than the spectacle-packed summer movie season. That raises a classic chicken-or-egg question: Is the winter movie selection slimmer because fewer people go to the movies then, or do fewer people go to the movies during the winter movie season because the selection is slimmer? While it may be somewhat of a risk to release Star Wars 7 during a time period that traditionally draws less revenue, it also seems pretty unlikely that the movie will be anything less than a major hit no matter when it hits theaters.
In other words, while it may be disappointing to Star Wars fans that it will have been bested by a Twilight movie for the crown of widest release, that record has to be put in context. The number of theaters a movie is released in is an indicator of how well the theater operators think the movie will do, but it is not a predictor of actual box office success. After all, Twilight: Eclipse was far from the highest-grossing movie of all time, despite how many theaters it debuted in.
In the end, Star Wars fans will hardly have a hard time finding a theater in which to watch Star Wars 7. They'll just have one record in particular they won't be able to lord over Twilight's devoted fan base.
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.
Source: The Wrap