If there's one thing that J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been great at — aside from reminding everyone how much they liked the original movie — it's been breaking box office records. Lots of them. So it shouldn't come as a shock that there's another one rolling in just a few days before the end of the year: Star Wars has helped 2015 become the highest grossing year in US box office history. Deadline reports that North American box office totals for the year have topped $11 billion, with the tally estimated to hit $11.1 billion by the end of the year.
The previous record came in 2013, with movies like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the Frozen juggernaut helping drive over $10.9 billion in business. Along with Star Wars, a number of franchise films were responsible for the 2015 surge, including Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out, and Furious 7. Still, nothing has performed quite like Star Wars, which as of Sunday stood at over $540 million domestic and over $1 billion worldwide.
Record-breaking grosses aren't the same thing as record-breaking attendance
Of course, with tickets prices escalating rapidly in recent years thanks to 3D, IMAX, and premium large format theaters, record grosses aren't anywhere close to the same thing as record attendance. In fact, according to Box Office Mojo as of Sunday, 2015 has had one of the lowest number of tickets sold since 1996. While that total will certainly increase over the next few days it won't be enough to change the fact that there are simply far fewer moviegoers in recent years than there were in the late 1990s and early 2000s — and that's to say nothing of inflation itself. According to the same site, the top grossing domestic film of all time when adjusted for inflation is still 1939's Gone with the Wind, with the original Star Wars snagging the second spot. On that adjusted scale The Force Awakens is currently 43rd, but with the film having been in theaters for less than two weeks it will have plenty of time to climb that ladder, no doubt setting more records along the way.The Force Awakens First reactions