‘Star Wars’ Smashes Box Office, Rallies Blockbuster Strategy

On its opening weekend, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” demolished box office records — as well as the trope that crowds no longer throng to movie theaters, even in the first days. The Walt Disney Company’s latest “Star Wars” movie brought in about $517 million globally, a success that is stunning in its size and scope, and that underscores Hollywood studios’ efforts to focus on repurposing the blockbuster, from “Avatar” to “Frozen.” According to Disney, 3D screenings account for 47 percent of the gross.

The New York Times notes that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” also enjoyed the largest opening weekend ever in North America — $238 million — compared to $85 million for “Avatar,” which analysts consider to be the highest-grossing film in history with $3.1 billion in global box office.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” demolished the previous record for a December opening, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” at a mere $87.5 million. To break down demographics, males made up 58 percent of the audience and those 26 and older made up 63 percent.

The success of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” emboldens Hollywood studios that have heard for years now that television is the new golden medium as well as seen DVD sales decline. “Death Star-size movies that can capture the public’s imagination in ways reminiscent of the earliest years of blockbusterdom, before the hyperfragmentation of pop culture,” says NYT.

In June, “Jurassic World” made $208 million in its first three days, the beginning of what NYT calls a “nostalgia-driven strategy,” that is just beginning to bear fruit. In the pipeline are, from Disney, four more “Star Wars” movies, “Frozen 2,” a two-part “Avengers: Infinity War” and a reboot of the Indiana Jones series.

Other studios are also following the strategy: Fox, with three “Avatar” films and “X-Men: Apocalypse”; Universal with another “Jurassic World” and a movie starring Dracula, the Mummy and Frankenstein; Warner Bros. with “Batman vs. Superman” and a movie featuring Godzilla vs. King Kong.