Expectations Explode for “Force Awakens”
When Disney revives the long slumbering Star Wars franchise on December 18, The Force Awakens will take the global tentpole opening to a history-making high. How high? Many are already predicting a record $615M worldwide opening, and they have plenty of reason to be confident in that number.
As we come off a summer where Jurassic World set the record with a $524.4M global opening and a record $1B haul in 13 days — the fastest film to cross that mark — experts believe the seventh Star Wars film will surpass the dinosaurs’ feat and recoup its estimated $200M production cost in historic time.
Insiders say that in any given 20-plex in December, Force Awakens will be on at minimum 10 screens. The expectation is that Force Awakens will play in north of 4,000 theaters on at least 10,000 U.S. screens stateside and in every overseas territory. All except for China, which has a blackout period on Hollywood films during December.
Disney recently held a Star Wars Celebration fan gathering in April which drew 60,000. Their first teaser trailer during Thanksgiving last year attracted 100M, between theatrical and online play. The crowd at Comic-Con was so enthused about the Hall H Force Awakens presentation, they followed Abrams through the streets of San Diego to a special outdoor symphony concert of the Star Wars music. Disney is further priming fans around the world with a global live Star Wars toy unboxing YouTube event taking place in 15 global locations including Sydney, Hong Kong, Berlin, Tokyo and New York the eve before Force Friday, September 4, when the new line of toys are dropping.
The hyper projection for Force Awakens isn’t just prompted by the recent success of Jurassic World, but the exhibition landscape has made leaps and bounds in its advancement since Avatar played. The James Cameron film put Imax on the map as a catalyst for tentpole grosses, and the large format exhibitor plans to up its 800 screens worldwide to 920 by the time Force Awakens opens. In addition 420 deluxe premium large format digital venues which didn’t exist in 2009 are contributing an additional $400M to the domestic box office this year; those hubs will also goose Force Awakens gross.
The last worry — which is one shared by any studio playing a major franchise — are millennials’ unpredictable nature to crucify a film on social media after seeing it on opening day.
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