The Force Awakens passes Avatar in US

star-wars-the-force-awakens-poster-04_493.0Star Wars: The Force Awakens has now passed Avatar’s $760 million on the all-time domestic box office list.

In just 20 days.

Let’s think about that for just a second.

The seventh film in the legendary series was front-loaded to do an amazing amount of business, but most realistic estimates put it on track to do $500 million by the end of the year. But The Force Awakens has maintained a stunning daily hold, with many fans seeing the movie multiple times.

The J.J. Abrams sequel has a grip on the culture like no film since … Avatar? Titanic? I’ve been to parties where entire conversations between adults are focused on what the myriad narrative strands mean, while the kids have lightsaber fights in the other room. Even the J.J. haters and naysayers (“It’s a remake!”) are jumping in with theories and looking forward to the next chapter.

Seriously, name the last time that happened.

Sure enough, admission has ebbed as kids went back to school, but that might just bolster the weekend box office. The main box office conversations concern two things: domestic and foreign. To date, James Cameron’s Avatar ($2.8 billion) and Titanic ($2.1 billion) are the only films to reach that pinnacle. Force stands at $1.56 billion global to date.

But the real box office conversation we need to have is about the Adjusted for Inflation list. Take a look:


Now that’s a respectable list, and if you search your feelings, you know this to be an accurate accounting of a film’s popularity based on ticket sales, regardless of how strong the dollar was that particular year.

But consider if The Force Awakens makes a billion dollars domestic. It’s possible, considering it’s done three fourths of that in 20 days, but would have to fall less than 50% on weekends for the next month or so. That would put it on the all-time list. Also consider that the amount of money separating #10 from #3 is just $225 million.

So yes, looking at this from a purely mathematical angle, Star Wars would have to make another $500 million domestic to hit #3 on the all-time big daddy adjusted list. That’s probably not going to happen. In all likelihood, we are probably looking at a final domestic take of around $900 million – and that ain’t too shabby.

But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Star Wars fans don’t mess around, and if they know there’s a cool billion domestic on the table, I can see this extending well into the future. 

Keep those seatbelts on, kids. This ride ain’t over yet!

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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