Star Wars: The Force Awakens just shattered the U.S. opening weekend record with a whopping $238 million in ticket sales. It came up just shy of Jurassic World‘s $524 million worldwide debut record, pulling in $517 million globally so far, with China coming early next month.
Before we get into a nitty-gritty dissection, we must offer a round of applause for Walt Disney, Lucasfilm and everybody involved with this mammoth debut. Yes, much of this weekend was driven by brand loyalty and nostalgia, nostalgia for a property that Disney merely acquired and continued, but they pulled this off with a pitch-perfect marketing campaign. It was mostly spoiler-free, comparatively sparse in quantity, and noteworthy in quality with brilliant pieces of marketing materials (that last trailer… wow) which stand alone as pieces of art. And while I may be the grouchy old man shouting at the wind in terms of the film itself, a lot of moviegoers are very happy this weekend.
the Thursday preview record ($57 million) and on Friday the single-day record ($120.5m). Star Wars‘s Saturday and Sunday grosses of $68.7m and $48.8m were the third biggest Saturday and the fourth biggest Sunday respectively. In fact, for what it’s worth, the driving force of this record-breaking weekend was, like Deathly Hallows part 2, that Thursday/Friday gross.
Now The Dark Knight also bested Spider-Man 3‘s opening weekend ($158m vs. $151m) despite not setting a record for Saturday and ended up making a lot more overall than Spider-Man 3 ($533m vs. $336m), but it’s trivia nonetheless. And, mea culpa, when I discussed the whole “pure Friday” thing yesterday, I was mistaken. I was going off of the Jurassic World Friday gross that was reported that Saturday, which was a little higher than the now “final” $81.9m Friday gross. Point being, Star Wars: The Force Awakens really did snag the biggest “pure Friday” gross by $100k, with a “no Thursday money” total of $63.5m versus Jurassic World‘s $63.4m.
The film’s audience was 58% male, 71% adults, 20% families, and 9% teens. Breaking it down by age, it played 8% 12 & under, 9% 13-16, 20% 17-25, 26% 26-34, 24% 35-49, and 13% 50 and over. It played 53% 2D and 47% 3D. It played 28% straight 3D, 12% IMAX, and 7% PLF. It earned $30m in IMAX domestically, which is a new record (as was the film’s $14m IMAX Friday). It opened in 8% of the marketplace and earned $279m overseas in the first five days, including $48m in IMAX worldwide. Yes, it fell a few bucks short of the Jurassic World worldwide debut record, but don’t be too surprised if Disney finds $7 million worth of Space Bucks tucked inside its couch by tomorrow.
The Daisy Ridley/John Boyega/Harrison Ford/Adam Driver/Oscar Isaac adventure kick-started its weekend with a whopping $57 million in Thursday previews, a number that made up 47% of its opening day total and 23.9% of its opening weekend total. That’s awfully close to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 pattern. And moreover, with movies earning this kind of money before the start of the traditional weekend, it may be time to have a conversation about whether to still include the Thursday number into the Friday gross. It was one thing when you had Mission: Impossible or Jurassic Park getting an extra $3m or so before the start of the weekend, but we’ve now had countless instances with big openers pulling in over 20% of their opening weekend on Thursday. Anyway, the film demolished Harry Potter 7.2‘s record of $43.5m at midnight and $91m on Friday and said $91m single-day record.
In terms of comparative performance, the J.J. Abrams sci-fi sequel played this weekend just a bit more front-loaded than The Dark Knight Rises ($77 million Friday/$160m weekend) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I ($62m/$125m). The film earned a 1.97x weekend multiplier, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that goes up when the finals are released on Monday. That is compared to the 2.5x multipliers for The Avengers, Jurassic World, and Spider-Man 3, the 2.35x of The Dark Knight and Iron Man 3, and the 2.25x multipliers of the first two Hunger Games movies. It was about as front-heavy than the three Twilight Saga sequels that opened on a Friday, but it didn’t act like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 (1.85x). But it was still pretty darn frontloaded.
That was the core goal of this film. It didn’t matter if the movie was the fifth biggest grosser or first biggest grosser, as long as the audiences liked what they saw and were thirsty for more. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has reignited the franchise and through its triumph has guaranteed that the fellowship of the Force will live long and prosper.