Even if Disney keeps trying to downplay just how big Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be later this month, we all know that it will do just fine money wise. Hell, it’s already sold tens of millions of dollars worth of tickets and the release date is still two weeks away. Almost the entire world is amped up for this movie, but while it will make tons of cash in some territories, it may not in others.
A number of factors play into the financial future of The Force Awakens, from cultural leanings to familiarity with the property. For instance, in the U.S., anticipation is bubbling over as many of us have never lived in a world without Star Wars, whereas in China, the saga only recently screened there for the first time, so the general public is less familiar and invested. In a new report, Variety breaks down the box office predictions by territory, and while it is expected to make the most money in the U.S. and U.K., it is forecasted to earn the least in Italy.
As a franchise, Star Wars has always had ties to the U.S. and the U.K., which makes sense, they film at Pinewood Studios in London, use primarily American and British actors, and are big Hollywood productions. Predictions across the pond indicate that The Force Awakens could earn in the neighborhood of $150 million, which would put it in a neck and neck race to be the biggest U.K. with 2012’s James Bond adventure Skyfall, which leads the way with $154 million.
Online ticket sales are tracking like nothing theater owners have seen before, and with many students out of school for the holidays, it could have a massive opening weekend. And, like much of the world, the marketing, particularly bringing back the key cast from the original trilogy, has hit the nostalgia button for multiple generations from millenials on up. Basically, there is through the roof potential in these regions.
On the other hand, in Italy, the box office predictions are more in the $15-20 million dollar range. The Italian market may be tougher to crack for a number of factors. Though some think The Force Awakens could outperform all the previous installments, one says Italy is not "a top Star Wars territory," and that it doesn’t have quite the drawing power it has elsewhere. One challenge will also be to attract a younger audience that is new to the franchise.
There will also be stiff regional competition in local theaters to contend with, including a number of Christmas-themed comedies, as well as a Pope Francis biopic, Call Me Francesco, rolling out before hand. Checco Zalone also has a new movie, Quo Vado, set to open January 1, and as his last film earned $70 million, it could very well dominate the landscape.
No matter how it shakes out, don’t feel too bad for Disney, as some have predicted that in the first year after the December 18 release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens could account for $5 billion in tie-in merchandise sales alone, so no one is heading to the poor house anytime soon.