Star Wars makes history.
Number 1 U.S domestic film of all time.
I think this article supports what an extrodinary achievement this is in 21 days:
Walt Disney sent out an “It’s official!” press release yesterday at around 4:30 pm, but yes, in case you need hard confirmation, yesterday’s $6.2 million gross for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has indeed allowed the Walt Disney film to surpass the $760.5m domestic gross of James Cameron’s Avatar. So yes, not taking into account inflation, the 3D bump, and the IMAX/PLF bumps, J.J. Abrams’s sci-fi sequel is the biggest grossing movie ever in America. And yes, for the first time in 18 years, a James Cameron movie is not at the top of the charts. And yes, for the first time in forty years, a film not helmed by James Cameron, George Lucas, or Steven Spielberg is the biggest movie ever in America. It really is the end of an era.
If you want to play the “adjusted for inflation” game, The Force Awakens is actually the 20th biggest movie ever, just above Raiders of the Lost Ark ($762m) and just below The Sting and The Lion King (both of which made around $767.5m in “2016 dollars”). There are a couple things to note before we get bent out of shape about inflation. First of all, many of the films at the top of the list (Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, E.T., etc.) benefited from at least one high profile theatrical re-release after its initial theatrical run. Many of the older films existed in a time when films ran in theaters for years and when consumers could only see them in theaters. Moreover, in the days before cable television, the Internet, Netflix, and video games, theatrical movie-going was among the only means of mass entertainment available to most consumers, give or take radio and broadcast television.
It’s easy to say “Well, The Force Awakens sold less tickets than The Sound of Music,” but there was a lot less competition for your entertainment time and entertainment dollar back in 1964. In an era when we all talk about how young people don’t go to the movies anymore, and that Americans in general don’t make theatrical movie-going a prime part of their entertainment diet as much as they did even a decade or so ago, it’s impressive, nay most impressive, that a new movie has not only become the biggest grosser ever but also become one of the most popular movies of all time in terms of tickets sold as well. That, to me, is the most stunning achievement. And of course it’s not done yet.