Star Wars Episode VII Is Breaking Records, But Not All Of Them

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.

WATCH MORE: Entertainment News


    I went to see the movie in 3D. All action, very little story.. looked more like a sideways remake of the original Starwars. Enjoyed it... but felt it was made for promoting toys more than true story telling.. The 3D side was pointless.. would recommend seeing it in 2D instead. The original Starwars was so cool seeing it at a Drive - in theatre back in '77.. those were the days! :)

      i felt the same way. they need a new idea other then a bigger death star

        I agree it felt similar to the old ones but thats why I loved it, set the tone saying "sorry we stuffed up with jaja stuff, here lets reset and start again" It had enough to really take off in its own direction now while staying true. I enjoyed it and very excited to see where it goes.

          I didn't want a reset, I wanted a continuation of the story. And why would Disney apologise for a mistake that Lucas made?

      I agree 100%. The Force Awakens was simply a remake of A New Hope and it lacked anything original and compelling. The acting was forced (no pun intended) and it lacked the 'spirit' of the originals. But of course it's made a packet of cash for Disney and that's all they care about.

        I agree, it was like 1977 all over again. This looks more like a reboot for new fans and while enjoyable, it was hardly ground breaking. IMO Avatar is a much better movie. I suppose we wait 3 years to see if they can ever add some original material into the series.

      3D anything is a waste. I don't get why people see movies in 3D

      While I get the criticism of the story following the same path as the original Star Wars I understand why they did it. If they had done a totally different story I believe they would have gotten even more criticism for it not feeling like a Star Wars movie. With this movie they succeeded in doing what they needed to do which was pass the torch to a new generation. It was great to see the old cast again but what was even better was the introduction of the new cast and seeing where the story goes from here.

        That's just an excuse for being creatively bankrupt.

          I have to say that if all you saw while watching The Force Awakens was the similarities to A New Hope then you were not paying attention. Rey is not Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren is not Darth Vader and Finn is not Han Solo (and while I'm at it Poe is not Wedge Antilles). Sure they blew up a pseudo Death Star at the end but many of the other details and the more important parts of the story were different and to me it is the differences that made it interesting. They weren't just copying A New Hope. Similarities aside The Force Awakens was really just an introduction to these new characters and primarily it established who Kylo Ren is. And I suspect they will give us more details on who Rey is and what her path is in the next movie and what path the story will take.

            Oh, I saw the film, and I did pay attention, and they did just copy A New Hope. In fact, they copied it almost exactly. Talking about changing several characters and a few plot points is a weak excuse in lieu of admitting to yourself that the film is almost exactly the same. I'm glad that you enjoyed it despite the complete creative bankrupty on display, but I was hoping for something more than a +$100M remake of A New Hope.

              But to me it was those difference that made it interesting. And many of the similarities were almost irrelevant when it came to what was the core story. I read in a review that the destruction of Star Killer base felt tacked on and I have to agree that you could have remove that whole part of the story and it would have made little difference to main storyline which was Kylo Ren's relationship with Han Solo. Just having Han/Chewie/Finn rescuing the Rey would have yielded the same story outcome for those characters and that the destruction of the base was just there to give the movie Star Wars style ending. Now that they have established that this is "Star Wars" I'm pretty sure in the next one they won't feel a need to follow the original trilogy's lead. Also you could say that rescuing Rey is the same as rescuing Leia in A New Hope but the difference is that Rey didn't need rescuing and that is the point of having the two stories parallel each other, and then pointing out the differences.

    Avatar was in cinemas for Seven Months so it would be difficult for any film now to ever hit its worldwide gross.

      The interesting thing, looking at the box office stats, was that Avatar had a comparatively quite small opening weekend. It just had crazy staying power.

        It'd be interesting to look at the movie's box office takings in context too. What other movies were in the cinemas at the same time (or close to it) when Avatar was out versus Force Awakens? There have been a heap of blockbuster movies just in the last year. Was Avatar's competition less tough? I daresay back when Gone With the Wind was in cinemas there was less competition for the movie goers dollar.

        I wondered whether the shrinking window of "only available on the big screen" has an effect too. But Avatar took about four months to hit home video with a barebones 2d edition (the 3d version took longer). Jurassic World took about the same time, and I'd guess FA will be about the same. So I guess that's not such a large contributing factor - apart from the lack of a 3d version. Of course Gone With the Wind had no home video market so it's theatre sales would have benefited from that.

    Decided it was disappointing generally, especially considering who was involved. Probably a set up for the next couple of films in the franchise. Trying to draw in the older generation with their grandchildren.

    Story checks out for me. I saw Avatar three times. Force Awakens: twice.

    reason why it did well but not amazing is many people like my friends just said they have no interest anymore after the prequals.... they think there is nothing for them anymore its all CGI and disappointment.

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