The force is strong in Star Wars: Episode VII. The latest Star Wars saga smashed opening records. The Force Awakens’ $529 million in ticket sales ($248 million domestic, $281 million international) made it the highest earning film on its opening weekend. It bested records set by the Jurassic Park and Harry Potter franchises along the way. Now, one question remains: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, beat Avatar, will it?
Avatar holds the record for highest-grossing film of all time, earning $2.8 billion. Despite Jurassic World’s colossal opening, ticket sales flattened out after 4 weeks enabling Avatar to retain the crown. Just how powerful is the force – will it peter out like Jurassic World or can it rival the Pandora and the story of the blue-skinned Na’vi?
Social media and TV ad occurrence data provide insight into how advertisers are promoting their wares and how consumers are responding. By comparing studio trailer airtime and social engagement for The Force Awakens and Jurassic World, we can evaluate the likelihood of Star Wars earning more accolades and what Disney must do to improve its chances of beating Avatar.
Jurassic World and The Force Awakens show a similar advertising pattern for launching their films. Both accelerated their TV advertising starting a month before opening week and ran close to 1,000 minutes of national spots the week leading into their premieres. The Force Awakens generated more than 5 times the social engagement of Jurassic World with a similar number of ads setting the space epic in a galaxy of its own.
High social engagement is indicative of an experience people fear of missing and suggests many more people will continue to flock to the box office to watch classic jedis pass on their lightsabers.
To become the highest-grossing film of all time, The Force Awakens must find a way to sustain its momentum. This is where Jurassic World slipped. Immediately after its opening week, Jurassic World’s TV advertising plunged, followed by its social engagement and box office numbers. There was a spike in engagement when Jurassic World announced its 2018 sequel, but the impact was short lived several and occurred weeks after the film had already quieted its advertising.
Star Wars has already proven to be a marketing force. To avoid going to the way of the dinosaur, it must continue to use the force.
Stay tuned for Star Wars’ impact on brands in Episode III of our report.