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Eight Records Star Wars Needs to Break

December 10th, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Expectations are a dual-edged sword. On the one hand, great expectations can drive people to theaters when they might not otherwise do so. On the other hand, great expectations can mean a movie could open with $100 million and still be considered a disappointment. Today, we list the eight records that Star Wars: The Force Awakens needs to break to be considered an unqualified success. It doesn’t need to break all of them, but it will need to break at least half of them. Unlike our previous article, when we ranked the records by how likely they were to fall, this time we are ranking them in chronological order. This way you can play along and tell immediately if The Force Awakens will merely be a blockbuster, or something special.

Thursday Previews
The current record for Thursday Previews is the $43.5 million recorded by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. This could be a difficult record to overtake, as it is a lot easier to convince people to go on Thursday evening when they don't have to go to school the next day. Additionally, $43.5 million is a huge amount of money to earn in a very limited time if not every theater shows Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Thursday evening. However, reports are that many theaters sold out their Thursday evening shows at a record pace and this makes additional shows a lot more likely. This looks like a record that could well be broken.

Opening Day
The current record is $91.07 million, again held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. There is some speculation that The Force Awakens will top $100 million during its opening day. If that happens, then this movie will be something special. It almost doesn't matter what happens during the rest of its run... as long as it does’t break records for terrible legs. Even if it barely tops Deathly Hallows, Part II, Christmas holidays begin on Monday, so it would take a serious Fanboy effect to cost it the next record.

Opening Weekend
The current record was set earlier this year by Jurassic World at $208.81 million. This is very nearly 2.5 times more than the biggest weekend in December record and just based on that, one would have to assume it will be really hard for The Force Awakens to break it. However, it does have some advantages, including the Christmas holidays, which start on opening day. Families could flood the theaters like no other film and there could be people planning on watching it repeatedly over the weekend.

Global Opening Weekend
This is another record held by Jurassic World at $524.42 million. The biggest obstacle for The Force Awakens to break that record can be summed up in one word: China. The film doesn't open in China until January 9th and Jurassic World opened with more than $100 million in that market alone. Being down $100 million could be too much to make up. On the other hand, I've seen predictions for an opening global weekend of over $650 million. $550 million is more likely, and this might prove to be a tough record to beat.

Second Weekend
Of all the records on this list , this is the one that is most likely to fall. While December releases tend to not have monster openings like summer blockbusters, but they tend to have amazing legs. The Force Awakens’ second weekend is Christmas weekend, which is very kind to holdovers. Last year, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies dropped just 25% during the Christmas weekend. If The Force Awakens has the same sophomore stint decline, then it would only need to make $140 million opening weekend in order to break Jurassic World’s record of $106.59 million. Granted, The Battle of the Five Armies was a Wednesday release, so that helped its sophomore declines, but this year Christmas lands on a Friday. The last time that happened was 2009, which was the year Avatar came out. It only fell 2% on its second weekend. The time before that was 1998 and the sophomore class had just as long legs. The Christmas Friday advantage seems to make this record almost inevitable, even if the film opens on the low end of expectations.

Now we get to the big three on this list.

2015 Domestic Total Box Office
The biggest domestic release of the 2015 so far is Jurassic World at $652.20 million. This is a massive amount of money, but this might be one of the easier records to break. The Christmas break does amazing things to a film’s legs. A multiplier of four or more is surprisingly common, especially when a film opens the weekend before Christmas. Even an opening weekend of only $170 million could be enough to claim this record, and a $170 million opening weekend is on the very low end of expectations. On a side note, I may have committed a World Crime for using "only" in the previous sentence.

2015 International Total Box Office
This record is held by Furious 7 at a stunning $1.165 billion. I’m not sure if the international record will be harder to break than the worldwide record, but we will certainly have to wait longer to find out. It all depends on how well The Force Awakens does in China. A $300 million run in that market will go a long way in determining if this record falls. It could break the record in that market, and earn more than $400 million, but that’s probably the hardest thing to predict.

2015 Global Total Box Office
Another record Jurassic World holds that The Force Awakens is aiming to break. I've seen a worldwide prediction of $2 billion, which would destroy the current record of $1.669 billion. On a side note, it is possible for The Force Awakens to fail to become the biggest hit of 2015 both domestically and internationally, but still be number one worldwide. That would probably be the most interesting result, but I'm not sure how likely it is.

If Star Wars can break just four of these records, then there's no way anyone can complain about the film’s success. I can see it breaking three of them (Previews, Single-Day, Second Weekend) and have people say, “Yeah, but it's no Jurassic World.”

Next time we will look at the records The Force Awakens is a long shot to top. Records so impressive that if it can break them, it will prove Disney underpaid when it bought the franchise.

Related article: Six Records Star Wars is Certain to Break

- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars franchise history
- Biggest Single Days at the Box Office
- Biggest Weekends at the Box Office
- Biggest Second Weekends at the Box Office
- Top Movies of 2015 at the Box Office
- Theatrical Records

Filed under: Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, Star Wars