The hype machine surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been huge. The first movie in the Star Wars series directed by J.J. Abrams and distributed by Walt Disney Studios has a whole lot to live up to, and some insiders are pretty nervous about that.
In fact, according to his friend and famed producer, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams is shaking in his boots. Spielberg told 60 Minutes:
"Oh J.J. is terrified. There's a lot of pressure on J.J. to start paying Disney back for, you know, the franchise they bought from George Lucas."
So how much does The Force Awakens need to make at the box office for everyone at Disney and J.J. Abrams to be satisfied? That number has been estimated to be $1.5 billion! That's right, in order for the new Star Wars film to be considered a success on Wall Street, it needs to gross at least $1.5 billion worldwide. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a budget of $200 million and that does not include the movie's huge marketing costs. Disney paid $4 billion to purchase the Star Wars franchise and Lucasfilm from George Lucas, back in 2012.
Director J.J. Abrams also appeared on 60 Minutes, commenting that:
"You just know that there will be people, no matter what you do, that will have issues with some aspect. You just know there is some number that being thrown out there that will not be hit. You just know."
The good news is that according to analysts, Abrams can relax and enjoy himself. Early predictions have The Force Awakens bringing in about $2.5 billion worldwide at the box office. Even with those projections, the highest worldwide box office total for a Star Wars film has been just over $1 billion for Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 1999 (that movie had a budget of $115 million). The latest film in the series, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith brought in $845 million on a $115 million budget.
If it were to gross $1.5 billion worldwide, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would break the top five highest grossing movies of all times joining Avatar, Titanic, Jurassic World, and The Avengers. If it were to make $2.5 billion it would become the second highest grossing film of all time, second only to Avatar at $2.79 billion.