Star Wars: The Force Awakens Friday Analysis
By Tim Briody
December 19, 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I won’t make you wait any longer than you need to: Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned $120.5 million on Friday. That is, by far, the biggest single day of box office in history, absolutely crushing the film that held that title for nearly four and a half years, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which launched with $91 million in July of 2001.
It was reported that $57 million of that Friday total comes from Thursday night showings, which was also a record. And oh, by the way, in just one day, The Force Awakens has completely obliterated the December opening *weekend* record, which belonged to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; that started with $84.6 million in 2012.
We now have to look at Jurassic World’s opening weekend record of $208.8 million, a number which The Force Awakens is already 57% of the way to accomplishing. Completely cribbing the information I used six months ago when Jurassic World opened, here’s where we’re at regarding the largest opening weekends of all time:
Iron Man 3 $68.3 million Friday, $15.6 million Thursday, $52.7 million Friday actual, $158.5 million weekend minus Thursday, 3.00 multiplier
Avengers: $80.5 million Friday, $18.7 million Thursday, $61.8 million Friday actual, $188.7 million weekend minus Thursday, 3.05 multiplier
Avengers: Age of Ultron: $84.5 million Friday, $27.6 million Thursday, $65.8 million Friday actual, $163.6 million weekend minus Thursday, 2.48 multiplier
Jurassic World: $82.8 million Friday, $18.5 million Thursday, $64.3 million Friday actual, $190.3 million weekend minus Thursday, 2.96 multiplier.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $120.5 million Friday, $57 million Thursday, $63.5 million Friday actual, $???.? million weekend minus Thursday, ?.?? multiplier.
And just for kicks, here’s a few other relevant films:
Avatar: $26.7 million Friday, $3.5 million Thursday, $23.2 million Friday actual, $73.5 million weekend minus Thursday, 3.16 multiplier
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: $37.1 million Friday, $13 million Thursday, $24.1 million Friday actual, $71.6 million weekend minus Thursday, 2.97 multiplier.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: $91 million Friday, $43.5 million Thursday, $47.5 million Friday actual, $125.6 million weekend minus Thursday, 2.64 multiplier.
The Force Awakens' “true” Friday take is $63.5 million, a total that is just slightly less than what Jurassic World earned on Friday. That may not be relevant in the long run, but it’s an interesting bit of trivia. What $120 million in approximately 29 hours indicates is that anybody who wanted to see Star Wars as soon as possible had plenty of opportunity to do so.
Despite all of this information, where The Force Awakens goes from here depends entirely on its Saturday performance. Based on its single day performance, this is the most anticipated film of all time, and you can certainly make an argument that its box office was affected (positively) by the idea that spoilers would be all over social media and the internet, leading people to believe that the should see it as soon as possible. Plus, it’s the Saturday before Christmas, considered one of the busiest shopping day of the years. There’s a lot of strange factors at play here. While no records are probably going to be broken, this is going to be the most fascinating Saturday in box office history.
The bottom line here is that we’re probably looking at the new record (allowing for the idea that there are scenarios where it could fall a few million short). The harder question is how much of an increase is it over Jurassic World. Again, it depends on what happens today. Is an increase over the $63.5 million Friday possible? Yes, but I think it’s unlikely. It will still have a spectacular day, but a drop of 10% is much more likely. A $57.1 million Saturday, plus $50 million on Sunday gets you $227.6 million, which feels right. When you start reach the $235 million mark, I think you’re reaching the absolute best case scenario and anything above that is throwing out basic tenets of predicting box office. That’s not to say it’s impossible, as there’s never been anything like this, just that I actually think it’s more likely that Star Wars *doesn’t* break the opening weekend record before it earns $250 million this weekend.
I don’t mind admitting that this is an educated guess and I could be very wrong, in both directions. I’ve provided several examples of some of the biggest opening weekends in box office history, and at times it feels like no pattern fits. Again, it’s an opening weekend of $227.6 million for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and hats off to J.J. Abrams and everybody involved.
Oh, right, the other movies. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler team up again with Sisters and earn $4.9 million on Friday. That’s fine. It’s set up nicely as a comedic entry as we hit the important box office season between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plus, John Cena looks hysterical in it. Give it a weekend of $13.3 million to start.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip
The fourth Chipmunks movie, coming four years after Chipwrecked, continues to prove the law of diminishing returns as it earns $4.1 million on Friday, off 38% from the first day take of the last film. Unfortunately, it will be a very strong performer over the next couple weeks, starting with this weekend, as Chipwrecked started with $6.7 million and finished with $23.2 million. A similar pattern sends The Road Chip to a $14.2 million weekend.