The Force Awakens is a record-breaking film. It easily exceeded previous records of ticket pre-sales. It resoundingly smashed a number of box office highs — but not all of them. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is still not the top grossing movie worldwide, and it’s highly likely that it never will be.
Which Records Has ‘The Force Awakens’ Broken?
Let’s start with the records it has broken first. The Force Awakens smashed the US record for biggest opening weekend, beating Jurassic World’s $US208.8 million with its initial earnings of $US247.9 million. While there’s no consolidated or official record for ticket pre-sales, TFA also managed to break both IMAX and Fandango‘s individual ticket pre-sale records.
Episode VII is also far and away the biggest film in US domestic markets (not allowing for inflation — by which count Gone With The Wind is the clear winner) managing to gross $US822 million over Avatar’s $US760 million. It also snagged a number of more specific records, with the top second and third weekends of release, and becoming the fastest film ever to reach $US500 million — making that milestone in just 10 days, over Jurassic World’s 17 days.
The Force Awakens Isn’t The Top Grossing Film Of All Time.
At least not in worldwide figures. Love it or hate it, that mantle still belongs to our favourite CGI action-adventure, Avatar.
What’s more, TFA is not likely to beat Avatar’s $2.7 billion gross at any time in its cinema release (though if you want to be smug about Star Wars’ money-pulling ability, just think about how much they’re making off all that merchandise). As of yesterday it was still an unfortunate $US1 billion away from beating James Cameron’s epic.
The reason behind The Force Awakens’ lack of momentum in the foreign market is largely thanks to China, where the film was only released on the 9th of January and subsequently didn’t perform as well as expected. Don’t go blaming it all on China, however — Star Wars is still lagging behind Avatar in Australia as well. The Force Awakens is currently sitting just over $83 million in Australia, while Avatar is the only film to have ever surpassed $100 million down under.
While The Force Awakens is staying strong in US markets and many other countries, even into its fourth week, the film is already falling fast in China. After mixed reactions from the Chinese population — with some audiences confused by the plot of the sprawling space-epic, China’s total gross is forecast to come to a modest $US150 million. It’s not even expected to surpass the earnings of such cinematic masterpieces as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The reason behind this is that the original Star Wars trilogy was never released in China, with A New Hope’s release in 1977 coming only a year after the end of Mao’s cultural revolution. The original Star Wars films had never even been released in Chinese cinemas until June last year. If anything, China is likely to be far more familiar with the prequel trilogy, which might explain the general ambivalence to a film that dismisses the prequels and leans heavily on A New Hope. For a bit of insight into the films that do dominate the Chinese box office, the highest grossing film of all time over there is actually an oddball romantic comedy called ‘Monster Hunt’.
Of course, The Force Awakens has been incredibly successful, and only being the second highest grossing film of all time is definitely not something to complain about. That’s what Episode VIII is for, after all.