Movies - Box Office postsFriday January 08, 2016
'The Force Awakens' Passes 'Avatar" to Become Biggest Box Office Hit in U.S. History (Unadjusted)
Some time on Wednesday afternoon, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” passed “Avatar” to become the highest-grossing domestic movie of all time.
Here are the numbers, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:
That's unadjusted, of course. If you adjust for inflation, it's still hugely impressive:
I love the adjusted list. It's not full of recent and regrettable infatuations like “Age of Ultron” and “Dark Knight Rises”; most are classic films. In the top 10 alone, six decades are represented: 1930s (twice), 1950s, 1960s (twice), 1970s (thrice), 1980s and 1990s. They're also all original films. No sequels or reboots. It's not until you expand into the top 20 that you see any sequels. See if you can spot the pattern among them:
- 12. The Empire Strikes Back
- 15. Return of the Jedi
- 17. Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace
- 20. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
That's right. And the highest-ranking non-Star Wars sequel? “Jurassic World” at No. 24, then “Thunderball” at No. 30. Rounding out the top 50: “The Dark Knight,” “Shrek 2,” “Goldfinger,” Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.“
That's pretty amazing to me—that the top 20 is devoid of sequels except for ”Star Wars“ sequels. I guess that's how much we love George Lucas' universe.
So now that ”The Force Awakens“ has the unadjusted mark, the big question is where it will wind up on the adusted list. I assume it will get to $845 million to become the highest-ranking ”Star Wars" sequel of all time. Might it reach the top 10? That's $938.4 billion. Tougher. And can it reach $1 billion domestic? Toughest. It's already beginning to fall off now that the kids are back in school. Despite a strong weekend, for example, where it fell off only 39%, it wound up falling 54.7% for the week.
Could 'Star Wars VII' Be the First $1 Billion Domestic Movie?
How high will it go?
Let's break it down.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (also known as “Star Wars VII,” or “SW: TFA” or just “TFA”) shattered the opening weekend box office record by grossing $247.9 million December 18-20. The previous record, set earlier this year by “Jurassic World,” was $208 million, which was just a hair over the mark “The Avengers” set in 2012. Lost in the numbers is the fact that “Star Wars” did this the weekend before Christmas, when box office is generally as dry as Tatooine. Everyone's just too busy getting ready for Christmas to go see a movie. Put it this way: The previous record for any December weekend was the first “Hobbit” movie, which grossed $84 mil in 2012. So quite a leap. A leap into hyper space, you might say.
Which is why, after “SW7” shattered the record, it began to widen its lead. It was Secretariat at Belmont Stakes, and “Jurassic World” was Sham:
- 3-Day lead: $39.1 million
- 4-Day lead: $54 million
- 5-Day lead: $67 million
- 6-Day lead: $85 million
- 7-Day lead: $94 million
Just a few years ago, the 10-day record belonged to “The Dark Knight” at $313 mil until “The Avengers” broke it in 2012 with $373 mil. That record was then broken by “Jurassic World,” which grossed $402 in 10 days this summer. “Star Wars VII” is currently at $540 million. Its lead is $138 million.
So at this point it seems assured of breaking the all-time domestic record of $760 million set by “Avatar” in 2009. But the bigger question is really where it stops. Could it break the $1 billion domestic mark?
It could—but it won't be easy. A look at the recent 10-day record holders indicates that most of these films earned about 60% of their total gross after 10 days. For “Jurassic World” it was 61.8%, “The Avengers” 59.8%, “The Dark Knight” 58.8%. If “Star Wars VII” holds to this pattern—if its 10-day total represents 60% of its final domestic gross—it will eventually gross $900 million.
To get to $1 billion domestic, that 10-day total will have to go down to 54% of its total gross. This is actually more difficult than it sounds. We ride movies hard out of the gates now, and they fade quickly. Of the 33 other films that grossed more than $200 million after 10 days, only one, “Avatar” (another December release), came in under this mark:
|MOVIE||10-DAY GROSS||% OF TOTAL||THTRS||TOTAL||YEAR|
|Toy Story 3||$226,889,351||54.7%||4,028||$415,004,880||2010|
|The Dark Knight||$313,781,677||58.8%||4,366||$533,345,358||2008|
|Marvel's The Avengers||$373,071,647||59.8%||4,349||$623,357,910||2012|
(For the record: 11 of the 33 were in the 60-65% range, nine were in the 65-70% range, and eight (bad sequels like “Spider-Man 3”; franchises with a rabid fanbase but no general appeal, such as “Twilight”) were over 70%.)
But my sense is that “Star Wars VII” could transcend all of this. People are going to see it again and again. Families are going. Single dudes are going. Girls are going.
Where will it stop? We'll have a better idea on Sunday. But if I could get long odds on the $1 billion mark, I'd put money down. People love this franchise. They love it even when it sucks. And this one doesn't suck.
'The Force Awakens' Shatters Box Office Records
It's true. All of it.
Opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” grossed $247.9 million domestically. That shatters the mark set by “Jurassic World” earlier this summer by around $40 million. You expected it, you would have been hugely disappointed if it hadn't, but it's still fun to run through the numbers:
- Its single-day total on Friday was $119 million, which is the best single-day total by something like $30 million. The former record-holder was the final “Harry Potter” film, which opened to $91 million in 2011. Put it this way: Only 19 movies have ever had better opening weekends.
- It shattered the best December opening weekend by threefold. The previous record-holder was “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which grossed $84.6 million in 2012. (December tends to be a tepid month for box office because everyone's too busy getting ready for Christmas.)
- It's the seventh-highest grossing release of the year.
- It also grossed $281 million internationally, for an opening worldwide total of $528 million: another record.
If it picks up again after Christmas, which I expect it to, all bets are off for the highest-grossing domestic film of all time: “Avatar” at $749 million. But it'll be tougher to beat “Avatar”'s worldwide mark of $2.7 billion. I'd put money on the former, not on the latter.
My $12 or so was among the receipts, as I saw the movie on Saturday afternoon with Patricia, my nephews, my sister and her husband. “The Force Awakens” is not without its problems (a bit derivative of the first “Star Wars”), but the two new leads are great, and it's the kind of film that will draw repeat customers.
Box Office: ‘Hunger Games’ Joins the Ranks of the Fallen
The odds were ever in its favor, but the final “Hunger Games” fell at the box office.
Is it the “Part 2” or merely the “Mockingjay”?
The fourth and final “Hunger Games” was upon us this weekend, and, though the odds were ever in its favor, it disappointed at the box office.
Here are the opening weekends for each “THG”:
- “The Hunger Games” (2012): $152 million
- “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013): $158 million
- “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014): $121 million
- “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015): $101 million
So over two years, it lost a third of its opening weekend value.
What went wrong? Is it the fact that we’re tired of Hollywood stretching out these stories with all of these “Part 2”s? Except the final installment of “Harry Potter” broke records, while “Twilight”’s last go-round improved upon its “Part 1” box office.
Is it “The Hunger Games” itself? I’ve heard the later books aren’t as good as the earlier ones. Maybe the audience knew that and drifted away. Maybe they grew up.
Brad Brevert on “Box Office Mojo” has another suggestion: “Star Wars VII” anticipation. It’s sucking all the air out of the room.
Obviously it’s still a good weekend, but “Hunger Games” joined the ranks of the fallen less than triumphantly.
The latest James Bond, “Spectre,” dropping 56.7% in its third weekend, grossed antoher $14.6 for a domestic total of $153.7. That’s about half of what its predecessor did. Bond fatigue? More “Star Wars” anticipation?
“The Peanuts Movie” dropped 46% and grossed another $12 mil for a domestic take of $98 million. Not exaclty a warm puppy.
Two new movies, the R-rated Seth Rogen comedy “The Night Before,” and the U.S. remake of the Argentian award-winner “The Secrets in their Eyes,” finished fourth and fifth, with $10 and $6 mil respectively.
Office, Box Office
The highest-grossing Bond flick, unadjusted.
“Spectre,” which Patricia and I are going to see today, is the 25th incarnation of James Bond, not including the first two Casino Royales ('54 American TV; '67 movie spoof), and it's doing well enough at the box office. But apparently we've reached a saturation point.
Here are the top 10 James Bond box office hits of all time—unadjusted. What do you notice?
|2||Quantum of Solace||$168,368,427||2008|
|4||Die Another Day||$160,942,139||2002|
|6||The World Is Not Enough||$126,943,684||1999|
|7||Tomorrow Never Dies||$125,304,276||1997|
Since Pierce Brosnan took over the role in 1995, every James Bond flick has done better than the previous one. It was a stock that kept rising. “Spectre” is the market adjustment. It'll probably get to second place but won't get within $100 million of “Skyfall.”
Other observations: Bond didn't break the $100 million barrier until Brosnan. Kind of shocking, isn't it? And it didn't break the $200 million barrier until the last one, “Skyfall,” in 2012. So the original “Hunger Games” made more in three days than all but four James Bond movies did in their entire runs.
That's unadjusted. If you adjust for inflation, things change. Big time:
|4||You Only Live Twice||$299,439,300||$43,084,787||1967|
|6||Die Another Day||$230,050,800||$160,942,139||2002|
|7||Tomorrow Never Dies||$224,439,200||$125,304,276||1997|
|8||From Russia, with Love||$222,371,000||$24,796,765||1963|
|9||Diamonds Are Forever||$221,487,900||$43,819,547||1971|
|11||The World Is Not Enough||$207,280,700||$126,943,684||1999|
|13||Quantum of Solace||$195,570,000||$168,368,427||2008|
|15||The Spy Who Loved Me||$175,172,400||$46,838,673||1977|
|16||Live and Let Die||$166,695,600||$35,377,836||1973|
|17||For Your Eyes Only||$164,438,400||$54,812,802||1981|
|19||Never Say Never Again||$146,765,000||$55,432,841||1983|
|21||On Her Majesty's Secret Service||$133,760,000||$22,774,493||1969|
|22||A View to a Kill||$118,235,300||$50,327,960||1985|
|23||The Living Daylights||$109,179,100||$51,185,897||1989|
|24||The Man with the Golden Gun||$93,532,900||$20,972,000||1974|
|25||License to Kill||$72,826,900||$34,667,015||1987|
If you adjust for inflation, “Thunderball” is the 29th biggest hit in U.S. box office history (although only the third biggest movie of 1965—behind “The Sound of Music” and “Dr. Zhivago,” both of which are in the top 10 all-time).
In the early '60s, Bond was a stock that kept rising, too. Here are the adjusted domestic grosses of the first four movies: $157 million, $222, $552, $623. Bang zoom. Then two years off and a massive fall, back to $299. Then an even bigger fall to $133 in 1969. This last can be ascribed, in part, to a new actor, George Lazenby, taking over from Sean Connery, back when actors taking over iconic roles wasn't an everyday thing.
But what accounts for the drop between “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice”? Saturation? Too many Matt Helmish copies.
Or was it the difference between 1965 and 1967?
In '65, it was all well and good to go see a movie about a British spy who travels the world and kills bad guys and sleeps with broads. By 1967, half the people who went to the previous one weren't interested anymore. Maybe they were a little more serious. They went to see “The Graduate” instead. Or “Bonnie and Clyde.” It was the beginning of the age of the ordinary hero or the anti-hero. And Bond was neither.
No wonder for a time Bond's producers considered Adam West for the role. If West could turn Batman into a pop icon, surely he could ressurect Bond.
As it was, with Roger Moore at the helm, it was still a long slow slog throughout the 1970s to reach the point where, in 1979, “Moonraker” eclipsed the adjusted box office of 1963's “From Russia with Love.”
Then the '80s and a fall again. Then the casting of Brosnan and the steady rise.
I'd like to think that the market adjustment of “Spectre” presages a more serious age for all of us, as “You Only Live Twice” seemed to. But then you look at the top of this year's domestic box office—“Jurassic World,” “Avengers/Ultron,” “Furious 7”—and you know, no, we're still not a serious country, Virginia.
The highest-grossing Bond flick, adjusted. (A history of Bond posters can be found here.)