"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has been in theaters for a mere 12 days, but it's already put on its party pants and crushed the cinematic competition with all the strength of a trademark Darth Vader force choke.
The newest adventure to take place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, broke a new box office record this weekend, when it soared past the $1 billion mark faster than any film in history.
Again: That's A BILLION dollars in TWELVE DAYS.
With its opening week supremacy firmly established, the only question now is whether "Star Wars" will go on to break the mother of all box office records, and become the highest-grossing film of all time. But to do that, it'll have to surpass "Avatar," which has reigned supreme since 2009 with a gross of nearly $2.8 billion.
Will the force be strong enough to surpass James Cameron's groundbreaking, spectacular action flick? In short: Yeah, pretty much. Even accounting for the differences between "Star Wars"' out-of-the-gate performance versus the slower, steadier burn of "Avatar," the former is already a third of the way there -- and it hasn't even opened in China yet. But on top of that, J.J. Abrams' galactic adventure has an edge on James Cameron's environmentalist blockbuster in several key categories, including:
A ready-made, multi-generational fanbase.Lucasfilm
It kinda goes without saying, but "Star Wars" is riding high on a giant wave of nostalgia 40 years in the making -- whereas "Avatar" had to start building a fanbase basically from scratch.
A cast of cool new heroes.Giphy
Sam Worthington was a relative unknown when he starred as Jake Sully in "Avatar," but he was playing a brand of action hero we'd seen a million times before. Whereas John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac don't just look different from the usual stars; their characters are all refreshing contemporary twists on classic types like the Chosen One, the Reformed Villain, and the Hotshot Pilot.
Plus, a complicated villain.
The evil Colonel Quarritch was a compelling bad guy, but he's no match for the emotionally conflicted grandson of the most iconic screen villain of all time.
Not to mention the importance of SUBTLETY.Lucasfilm
In terms of moral message, "Avatar" was like the visually stunning love child of "Ferngully" and "An Inconvenient Truth"; in other words, its message about the importance of being green was, um, hard to miss. Whereas "Star Wars" has always had plenty to say about the importance of empathy, restraint, non-violence, and democratic ideals -- but unlike some movies, it doesn't beat you over the head with it.
And of course, the biggest difference: The BB-8 effect.
Sorry, James Cameron: If you wanted to hold on to that box office record, your movie should have included some huggable droids.