October 16, 2015 | Posted in:Social TV
By Jackson Murphy
On December 18, 2009, James Cameron’s Avatar opened. The Oscar-winning adventure about the tall and noisy blue people on Pandora became the highest-grossing domestic release of all-time and single-handedly forced every studio to either make or convert every upcoming big-budget action movie in or to 3D. This December 18, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will begin its quest to top Avatar’s box office records.
There’s no doubt that diehard fans of the legendary franchise will come out in droves (and in costumes, if theater chains will still allow it) to see if this seventh installment lives up to the years of hype. Hopefully, The Force Awakens is an exciting introduction into Disney and LucasFilm’s revamping of the series that will include two more regular “Episodes” as well as several spin-offs currently in development.
Here’s the bad news: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to overpower every movie theater in its path and become every movie studio’s worst holiday nightmare. It comes down to basic math. Cinemas only have a certain number of screens. The demand for The Force Awakens will be so high opening weekend that theater owners across the country will be forced to devote the vast majority of their screens to Hans Solo and company, squeezing the rest of the current releases onto either a very limited number of remaining screens or pushing them out altogether. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (opening November 20) is gone from the majority of multiplexes on December 17.
Five days after The Force Awakens opens, the Christmas blockbusters begin rolling out, starting with Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked on Wednesday December 23. The Big Short, an all-star financial drama from Paramount, will also be expanding that day. Christmas Day itself brings the action remake Point Break from WB (which I honestly believe will get pushed to 2016) and the Paramount comedy Daddy’s Home starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
And let’s not forget that Santa will be leaving other presents in the form of awards season hopefuls Concussion (the NFL drama with Will Smith) and legitimate Best Picture, Director, and Actress contender Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper. Audiences are going to want to spend their movie gift cards on these films. However, it’s likely they’ll only be available for limited showings on limited screens, so sell-outs will be a problem. Those predicting how these movies will do at the box office would be smart to keep their expectations low.
Finally there’s this: The Force Awakens comes out right in the middle of nomination season, with every studio–large and small–trying to get their movies seen by critics and audiences to drum-up buzz and sway voters. It’s going to be much tougher for publicists and marketing departments to do their jobs when practically every website and magazine will be devoted to endless Star Wars news, analysis, and box office breakdowns.
To sum it up: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
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Jackson Murphy (a.k.a. Lights-Camera-Jackson) has been a film critic/entertainment reporter on TV and radio since the age of 7 1/2. He currently appears weekly on WFLY radio (Albany, NY) and his reviews appear in The Record (Troy, NY) newspaper.
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Emmy-nominated network television producer Deborah Mitchell is a veteran of ABC and CBS News, a member of the Producers Guild of America, and a board member of the James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee. Through Deborah Mitchell Media Associates, she will create your online personality with a customized website, book you on the right television show, manage your social media profiles, and connect you with the best and brightest digital influencers. Deborah is a weekly contributor for Entrepreneur.com and author of So You Want To Be On TV. You can follow Deborah @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com.