GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The big screen return of Star Wars is on track to make box office history.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — opening Thursday evening at most theaters, Friday worldwide and Jan. 9 in China — had a $200 million production budget. It’s expected to recoup that quickly.
The film is expected to bring in more than $200 million in North America alone during its opening weekend as it shows at 4,134 theaters, including more than 392 IMAX screens and more than 3,300 3-D screens.
Movie industry analysts expect ticket sales to to reach a record. Fandango tells Variety its ticket presales alone generated more than $100 million.
By Thursday afternoon, Celebration Cinema had already sold 9,994 tickets for showings between 7 p.m. and midnight in West Michigan, the company told 24 Hour News 8.
Steve VanWagoner, vice president of marketing and public relations for Celebration Cinema, also said more than 50 weekend shows put on by the theater chain were already sold out, including all of its IMAX showings. That worked out to about 60,000 presold tickets, Celebration’s most ever.
However, as of Thursday night, tickets were still available to dozens of other showings over the weekend.
CHASING BOX OFFICE RECORDS
Episode VII of the “Star Wars” saga is trying to break a number of box office records: It hopes to beat out “Jurassic World’s” opening weekend record of $208.8 million, the $89.26 million winter season opening weekend record set by “American Sniper” in December 2014, and the $84.61 million December record set by “The Hobbit” in 2012.
The box office figures for the other “Star Wars” films, according toBoxOfficeMojo.com:
- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005): $108,435,841
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002): $80,027,814
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999): $64,820,970
- Return of the Jedi (1983): $23,019,618
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980): $4,910,483
- Star Wars (1977): $1,554,475
Total box office:
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999): $474,544,677
- Star Wars (1977): $460,998,007
- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005): $380,270,577
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002): $310,676,740
- Return of the Jedi (1983): $309,306,177
- The Empire Strikes Back (1980): $290,475,067