For the first time in 18 years, a Star Wars movie sits atop the All-Time Movie Box Office List. But what’s truly historic – even shocking – is how fast it got there.
By only its 20th day of theatrical release in North America, Star Wars: The Force Awakens tractor-beamed in $764.4 million to become the #1 Movie Of All-Time, surpassing Avatar and its total domestic cume of $760.4 million. Not even the most optimistic prognostications – which at their boldest merely suggested that *maybe* The Force Awakens would surpass Avatar on the All-Time list – dared predict that it would take the crown in just 3 weeks.
To put that into perspective, here’s a look at how long it took the previous Top 3 movies – Avatar, Titanic, and Jurassic World – to earn their total final grosses, compared to The Force Awakens.
- Avatar, $760.4 million – 318 days (10 1/2 months, over two releases)
- Titanic, $658.7 million – 352 days (basically 1 year, over two releases)
- Jurassic World, $653.4 million – 161 days (@3 1/2 months)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $764.4 million – 20 days (3 weeks)
Again, those first three tallies are final grosses. Not only is The Force Awakens still going; it’s actually still the #1 movie in the country. The speed at which all of this is happening, suffice it to say, is wholly unprecedented. Not only have we not seen this before; it’s hard imagining when we’ll see its like again.
For a more easily grasped yet still no less spectacular statistic: for the first time in 40 years, a director other than James Cameron, George Lucas, or Steven Spielberg holds the top spot (and it’s the first time in 18 years that it hasn’t strictly belonged to Cameron). That may be the most humbling measure of all for director J.J. Abrams, who can do whatever the heck he wants to right now. And he’s earned it.
With the exception of a brief stint by Star Wars: A New Hope at the #1 slot in 1997 (thanks to its Special Edition re-release, which overtook E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial before being overtaken itself within the year by Titanic), The Force Awakens is actually the first Star Wars movie since pre-E.T. 1982 that will sit securely at #1 for the foreseeable future. Minus that 1997 Special Edition year, this is the first new Star Wars film to rule the box office galaxy in nearly 34 years.
Of course, when adjusted for inflation (i.e. pricing all movie tickets ever sold into today’s dollars), the champ remains Gone With The Wind. That Top 5 rounds out with the original Star Wars, The Sound Of Music, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and Titanic (think of this stat as “Most Tickets Sold”). The Force Awakens currently stands at #20 (moving past Raiders Of The Lost Ark), but could finish in the Top 10 if it broaches $1 billion.
Which leads us to the biggest question of all moving forward: can The Force Awakens earn at least another $236 million (less than its opening weekend gross) to become the first movie ever to earn $1 billion in domestic North American receipts? A goal that once seemed too lofty to consider – even impossible – is now virtually inevitable.