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The Force Awakens Will Not Lose Its Domestic Box Office Crown

Avengers Endgame broke all box office records when it was released. However, 24 days into the release of the movie it becomes obvious that Endgame will not be able to beat the domestic box office results of The Force Awakens. The Force Awakens had very, very strong legs, especially for a modern day blockbuster movie, and Avengers Endgame just can’t keep up. So The Force Awakens will remain the number 1 movie on the domestic alltime box office charts in the USA (unadjusted for inflation). But the story doesn’t end here. Click through for some more thoughts and numbers (and bar charts) about Star Wars at the box office.

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Avengers Endgame made $357 million on its opening weekend, which was $109 million more than The Force Awakens made back in 2015.

However, ever since then Endgame made less money than The Force Awakens. Endgame made an impressive $413.7 million after its opening weekend up until now. But The Force Awakens made a staggering $564.8 million in the same time period. And The Force Awakens made another $124 million during the remainder of its theatrical run. As of now Avengers Endgame trails The Force Awakens by $42 million. This gap will only become larger.

The following graphic illustrates how very much frontloaded Endgame is when compared with The Force Awakens:

The Force Awakens vs Endgame Box Office

You can see how Endgame is losing momentum after the opening weekend, like any other typical blockbuster in the modern era of cinema.

So even though the MCU is said to be the most popular movie franchise of our time, Star Wars still has great potential. And while the following movies failed to make as much money, with Solo even a flop, no one should underestimate the box office draw of Star Wars.

However, one thing should concern Disney: while Star Wars makes good money it simply fails to be as successful outside North America as other movie franchises. Avengers Endgame is at $2.6 billion worldwide, which easily beats the $2.07 billion made by The Force Awakens.

Another metric illustrates that: Endgame made 70.5% of its money abroad. The Force Awakens made 54.7% outside North America. And the main reason for that is: China. Endgame made more than $600 million in China, The Force Awakens merely $124 million. Disney tried very hard to establish the Star Wars franchise in China, with no real success. Even the Chinese actors in Rogue One didn’t help. Star Wars is also struggling in South Korea, another core Asian market. Endgame is at $94 million there, The Force Awakens merely made $24 million in South Korea.

However, in the core legacy overseas Star Wars markets Endgame will most likely not beat The Force Awakens, the UK, France, Germany and Japan all had much higher box office results for The Force Awakens. In Germany Endgame is currently at $54 million, however, The Force Awakens ended up making more than $111 million in Germany. In the UK it’s similar, Endgame is at $104 million, The Force Awakens made $164 million in total in the UK. France is $52 million vs $88 million, Japan $43 million vs $98 million. And Endgame is nearing the end of its theatrical run so not that much will change here.

The following graphic will further illustrate this:

Click for a much larger version please

These are the top 10 foreign box office markets, according to the MPAA. And even without clicking the graphic, so you can actually read it, you easily see the extreme outlier that is Endgame (the red bar) in China.

Let’s focus on the traditional Star Wars core markets, so we can better see what’s going on there:

Star Wars vs Avengers Endgame Box Office

Click for larger version

Even the Last Jedi will outperform Endgame in Germany (The Last Jedi made $83 million in Germany), Germans really love Star Wars. In Japan The Last Jedi will most likely also outperform Endgame. In France and the UK things are much more closer though, and in the UK Endgame might actually beat The Last Jedi, but not by much. Australia is the only market in which Endgame already beat The Last Jedi.

While things are ok in the legacy markets we also see a pattern that should concern Disney. Star Wars is doing really well in the traditional core markets (let’s disregard Solo for this, this movie had problems of its own that have little to do with the popularity of Star Wars in general), but Star Wars absolutely fails to make an impression in emerging markets and much of Asia, Japan is the exception here.

So where Endgame, the MCU and many other modern franchises win is in China, South Korea and other emerging markets. Star Wars seems to be a lost cause in China and South Korea. The question is if Disney should focus on what they have – the core markets – or if they should keep on trying to popularize Star Wars in China and other emerging markets. Disney already tried it with Chinese actors and Diego Luna in Rogue One, but the movie failed to make an impression in Mexico and China.

For The Rise of Skywalker this means that it will most likely do really well in the US and then UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia and probably not so much everywhere else. In the long run Disney might want Star Wars to appeal to more people overseas. The only question is what can be done about it. I think a fresh start without any baggage or any prior knowledge that is required to enjoy the movies is needed to achieve that. Disney needs to reintroduce a whole new generation of people in the non legacy markets to Star Wars from scratch, if they want success in these countries.

Until then The Force Awakens is wearing the crown for domestic box office king (unadjusted!), but worldwide box office will be dominated by other franchises unless Disney finds a way to make Star Wars popular in Asia and elsewhere, without alienating audiences in the core markets.

What do you think? Should Disney keep trying to win China over? Are you surprised that Endgame is beaten by The Last Jedi in some of the key markets outside North America?

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