We are now less than two weeks away from the sequel to Return of the Jedi. It's no doubt that Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens is one of the most anticipated films of all time and a cultural cinematic event.
The Force Awakens would be an almost certain blockbuster with even the most minimal marketing imaginable. However, the hype for this film fuels the relentless Disney marketing machine as we are inundated constantly by every medium imaginable with all things Star Wars
While some of the general public may feel sort of fatigued by the Ad-Naseum. The Star Wars fandom consumes every morsel of this Star Wars mania.
Disney has probably already recovered much of that $4 billion they invested into Star Wars with merchandise sales but how much will Disney's first Star Wars film actually make? While Star Wars fans may not enjoy deliberating on trade negotiations and taxation in the galaxy far far away, they have enjoyed debating the almost certain conquering of the all time box office while automatically dismissing any pragmatism.
There has been awakening, a competitiveness in the Star Wars fandom that longs to conquer the box office behemoths of James Cameron's Avatar and Titanic. While it is possible, it's most certainly not a forgone conclusion as you might think. Here are some PROS and CONS for The Force Awakens box office chances.
PRO: Hype, Nostalgia and Marketing.
Like I mentioned above the Disney marketing train has turned into a runaway locomotive, poised to make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. The Force Awakens has become an event, a seminal moment in Star Wars and cinematic history. The trailers have been powerful emotional reminders that some of our favorite characters of all time are returning to the big screen. The absence of one Luke Skywalker however has fueled curiosity making us ask the same question Kathleen Kennedy asked JJ Abrams while pitching him the directors chair "who is Luke Skywalker?" Events like Force Friday have invigorated the hungry Star Wars fan base with just a taste of the excitement that opening night will be and a longing to see their new BB-8 toy on the big screen. Kids ages 14 and below who have been cutting their teeth on the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series will have their first chance to see Star Wars in theaters or at least the first chance they can remember. Even the most casual of Star Wars and everyday cinephiles don't want to look like a scruffy looking nerf herder, they want to be part of the excitement too.
PRO: Release Date
The December 18th release date might put The Force Awakens at a disadvantage in making a run for Jurassic Worlds opening weekend record. The holidays and weather may stifle some movie goers. Even with its $50 million in ticket pre-sales which is a record in itself, most of the rabid fans have bought their first or even second round of tickets already. That means it's almost certain it will destroy the December opening weekend mark set by the Hobbit of over $80 million. Still that leaves over $150 million left for the general public to account for in one of the most hectic weekends of the year. Also consider most people get time off work for the holidays so they may wait until Tuesday or Wednesdy to see the film. So right now you're thinking how is this a pro? Well, the James Cameron films Avatar and Titanic are one and two in all time box office gross. Both of those films were released a week before Christmas, one on the 19thof December and one on the 18th just like TFA. Those movies were able to ride hype and word of mouth well into the weaker box office season of January and February making those movies box office juggernauts for weeks on end. The Force Awakens has IMAX exclusivity for 30 days giving fans who missed out on opening night a chance to view the film in this spectacular format. Star Wars has a chance to reign at the box office all the way up to the release of Deadpool on February 12th and even stay competitive all the way up to the March release of Batman v Superman. Considering the repeat views The Phantom Menace got this film has a solid chance at conquering the all time record.
CON: Better than usual Competition.
While there aren't any movies set to be released during The Force Awakens theatrical run that has the box office potential of Star Wars. There are several must see films on the horizon that could hinder some of the repeat viewings. Star Wars fans who are also cinephiles like myself will probably also make the pilgrimage to see Innaritu's visual survival epic The Revenant. Not to mention Tarrantino's highly anticipated 70mm western The Hateful Eight. Even the latest Jennifer Lawerence and David O. Russell collaboration Joy could serve as a sort of quid-pro-quo for girls that aren't huge fans but watched Star Wars with their husbands/ boyfriends. Hell I might even check that out myself. So while I'm planning on seeing TFA multiple times these other great releases might cut into my repeat views. Take into account a significantly stronger than usual January and February box office with films like Deadpool on the slate some fans may forgo a third or fourth helping of Star Wars and hold out for digital release.
Con: Star Wars stigmas
Granted this shouldn't be a huge factor, but if you're a long time, die hard Star Wars faithful brace yourselves for what I'm about to tell you. Not everybody loves Stat Wars. I know, I know tragic right? Star Wars is such a cultural phenomenon that even people who haven't seen the films know about Jedi mind tricks, light sabers and the Millennium Falcon. This means at some point most people have had to establish wether or not Star Wars appeals to them, some have decided it doesn't. Judging by the mass appeal of Star Wars that's a very small group. However it remains to be seen how the overall disappointment of the prequel trilogy will affect the Episode 7. For some the overall feel of the trailers and footage to this point have erased much of the fear that these new films will be more like the prequels than the originals. But for few the heartbreak remains and it may be a while before they are ready to emotionally invest in Star Wars again. Compound that with the fact that even though the Marvel/Disney relationship has been very successful up this point some are really frustrated that the mouse house has rights to their beloved Star Wars. If the initial reviews from the Star Wars faithful are glowing than much of this stigma can be erased.
X-Factor: The Female audience
Even though Princess Leia was a strong female character, especially for her time, the series overall lacks the girl power it should have. Yes girls love Star Wars too but not as many as they should and Star Wars has been guilty of not only forgetting the female fan base in its marketing but also in the stories too. That all may change with the new female protagonist Rey. Thus far it seems that Rey is the main protagonist in the new films, at least equal to Finn and she could do for Star Wars what Katniss Everdeen did for all of cinema. If Star Wars can add some of that Hunger Games fan base to the already massive fan base it could take TFA to the next level.
X-Factor: The Fans
Look, if The Force Awakens passes Titanic you can almost guarantee that it will pass Avatar. Because if this film gets within reach of the all time box office record the fans will come out in droves to push it over the top. The fans want this. It's the only box office record that would even matter to this mega franchise. Episode VIII which is released in May of 2017 will make a push for the opening weekend record but this film has the ability to make all time history
Alan Horn himself said this release is uncharted territory for Star Wars and it's hard to predict the final outcome. One thing is for sure it will be fun too watch it play out.