To say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a success story is a phenomenal understatement. It had the highest grossing worldwide opening of all time and already beat the record for making $1 billion dollars (in only 12 days). The Critics Choice Awards threw their protocol out the window to include the movie as a Best Picture contender. Now, it's well on its way to surpassing Titanic at the box office as the second-highest grossing movie of all time, and if it keeps up this momentum, it will probably even top Avatar for that impressive top spot.
With this critical and commercial success in mind (not to mention the built-in and expanding fan base), will any movie in the future be able to come close?
As Lucas Siegel at ComicBook.com points out, the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise is a perfect storm of unprecedented appeal. Firstly, it's continuing a beloved story that ended over three decades ago, one that has been kept alive through not only the fandom, but the expanded universe of books, TV shows, and more. Secondly, the first large-scale return to the Skywalker legacy came with the prequel movies, and those, for all their highlights, didn't live up to expectations.
Essentially, Episode VII created and benefited from the kind of anticipation that you just can't manufacture. It's borne out of a genuine love of this galaxy far, far away, and that means return watches — the people that see it more than one time to bring in even more to the box office — were as inevitable as BB-8's gush-worthy cuteness.
In many ways, the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens can't be measured in only its box office gross, no matter how huge it becomes. That's because the movie had a set of unique challenges — 30 years of world-building, a new leader at the helm in Kathleen Kennedy, and wavering expectations after the last attempt to bring new Star Wars movies to the big screen — and it blew them all out of the water.
There was a lot riding on Episode VII. It was the first Star Wars film under the Disney umbrella. It had an already extensive line of movies to follow it (including Rogue One in 2016 and Episode VIII in 2017). Lastly, it was featuring some of the most adored characters in cinematic history. If it didn't succeed on all fronts, the devastation would have reached Death Star-level proportions.
Yet, Star Wars: The Force Awakens achieved all of its goals and more, and I'm not sure any movie can ever meet these unprecedented qualities — because they simply won't have them.