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Weekend Predictions: How Big a Force Will Star Wars be at the Box Office?

December 17th, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There are three wide releases this week, but only one of them matters: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Better than anticipated reviews could help it break records over the weekend. It has already broken some box office records, becoming the first film to reach $100 million in advance ticket sales. The other wide releases are Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Sisters, both of which are just trying to not completely disappear. This weekend last year, the total box office was $135 million. The Force Awakens could earn nearly 50% more than that and some would still see it as a disappointment. 2015 should extend its lead over 2014 by more than $100 million.

We've been talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a while now with a three-part look at major records it could break, as well as a look at the film's critical reception, so there's not a lot more that needs to be said. Originally, I thought The Force Awakens wouldn't break the all-time Biggest Opening Weekend, but it would come close with $200 million, more or less. However, I was operating under the assumption the film would earn 85% positive reviews, again, more or less. Its Tomatometer Score is currently 95% positive, so I underestimated the film's quality. This should have a positive effect on its box office chances, but there is a limiting factor here.

If Star Wars: The Force Awakens is to break Jurassic World's record, the film will also need to break the record for highest per theater average for a number one film. Jurassic World currently owns that record at $48,855, but The Force Awakens would need an average of $50,510 to just to inch above the record. That is possible, but very difficult, as there are only so many hours in a day to show the movie and only so many tickets that can be sold for each screening.

On the other hand, we have seen the Biggest Opening Weekend broken before by serious margins. When Spider-Man became the first film to have an opening weekend above $100 million, it also broke the opening weekend record by a 27% margin. If Star Wars: The Force Awakens were to do the same thing to Jurassic World's record, it would pull in $266 million over the weekend. That said, Jurassic World broke The Avengers record by 0.6%. That's assuming the record is broken at all.

The film will most likely open with between $200 million and $225 million. I'm going with a final prediction of $215 million.

Unfortunately, Star Wars: The Force Awakens isn't the only film opening wide this week. Sisters is going to attempt to find an audience this weekend. It does have some advantages, including being the only pure comedy that will finish in the top five and The Night Before will be the only other comedy in the top ten. Additionally, its reviews are good, but not great. I think it will pull in just over $11 million over the weekend, but will have relatively good legs for the season.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip should be next with just under $11 million. Its Tomatometer Score is mired in the single-digit range and kids who liked the previous films in the franchise are very likely too old to be interested in this movie. On the other hand, it is Christmas and this is a family film, so maybe it will earn second place instead of third.

This is likely the last weekend in the top five for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. It should pull in $5 million over the next three days, lifting it past the $250 million milestone.

In the Heart of the Sea should be next, also with $5 million. It will likely see its theater count drop next weekend, as it slides out of the top ten early in January.

Related articles:
- Six Records Star Wars is Certain to Break
Eight Records Star Wars Needs to Break
- Star Wars’ Path to Avatar’s Three Titanic Records
- Critics go Mad for The Force Awakens

Related pages:
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Star Wars franchise history
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Recent Comparisons
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens All-Time Comparisons
- Theatrical Records

Filed under: Weekend Preview, In the Heart of the Sea, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, The Night Before, Sisters, Star Wars, Alvin and the Chipmunks