Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens be one of the all-time highest grossing movies worldwide? Well, if you asked the members of my immediate family and their significant others this question, you’d get a resounding, “Hell, yes!” But, we’ve already purchased 7 tickets to see Star Wars: Episode VII together on the opening weekend. But, if you looked at Google Trends – both at web search interest and for YouTube search interest in the 2015 film – you’d get an answer that’s more like, “Uh, maybe.”
Now, the hype surrounding the release of The Force Awakens, has been gathering momentum since November 2014, when the first teaser was released online to a waiting world. To date, official teasers and trailers for the latest in the franchise have generated a staggering 223 million views for the “Star Wars” accounts on YouTube, and Facebook, according to Tubular.
But here’s the picture that I saw over the weekend: I used the beta feature in Google Trends, which measures search interest in topics to get an accurate measurement of Google search interest in the 2015 film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I saw a similar picture when I looked on YouTube search interest in the same topic.
There are several prominent spikes in Google and YouTube search interest – which correlate perfectly with the release of:
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser one year ago. It currently has 21,785,385 views.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser #2 seven months ago. It currently has 1,751,628 views.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official) one month ago. It currently has 69,672,768 views.
This view of search interest in the 2015 film has some advertising trade publications (pre-maturely) declaring that Walt Disney Studios is one of the top marketers of the year. Hey, I get it. The chart, of course, is nonrepresentational. But line appears to move ever upward to the right.
Search Interest in J.J. Abram’s Movies
Now, some other online media and blogs have found it fun to compare Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the 2009 film, Star Trek, and the 2013 film, Star Trek into Darkness, which were also directed by J.J. Abrams. This enables them to tap into the classic rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek fans. And using the beta feature in Google Trends, Google search interest in the 2015 film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is already significantly greater than either the 2009 film, Star Trek, or the 2013 film, Star Trek into Darkness. You can see a similar picture if you look at YouTube search interest in the same topic.
So, the director may top his previous two hits. That’s nice. I’m sure that will be good for his career. But, will it make his latest film one of the all-time highest grossing movies worldwide? Well, let’s compare it to the all-time highest grossing movie worldwide: the 2009 film, Avatar.
Google search interest in all three of the “Star” movies directed by Abrams is totally eclipsed by Google search interest in Avatar, which was directed by James Cameron. And you see a very similar picture if you compare YouTube search interest in the four science fiction movies.
Heck, if you compare Google search interest in all three of the “Star” movies to Google search interest in the 2015 film, Jurassic World, which was directed by Colin Trevorrow, Abrams comes up short again. And you’ll see a similar picture if you look at YouTube search interest in all five of the science fiction movies.
Have Fans Stopped Falling for the Hype?
So, what’s the deal? I have my own theory. I think that many Star Wars fans still feel “burned” by the hype that led up to the release of the 1999 film, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, which was directed by George Lucas. The first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy ended up getting a 56% “Rotten” rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Many aspects of the film were criticized, particularly the inclusion of the universally-hated Jar Jar Binks.
That’s why the broader YouTube community is waiting to hear what the influencers think about Star Wars: The Force Awakens before deciding whether to see the 2015 film themselves. Heck, they may have watched the teasers and trailer, but those don’t give away the story. They are waiting for YouTube channels like CinemaSins to weigh in on Star Wars: Episode VII. Hey, I know Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson, the co-founders of CinemaSins. They use to be editors of ReelSEO a couple of years ago, before taking what they’d learned here and making a business out of it. Jeremy and Chris don’t pull their punches when reviewing movies. Check out what they have to say about “Everything Wrong With Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Part 1” and “Everything Wrong With Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Part 2.” That’s right, we’ve been asking for it for years. And Jeremy and Chris finally went looking for sins in The Phantom Menace, and boy do they regret it. They found so many sins that they had to split them into two parts to avoid causing any sin-related overdoses.
Yep, that’s why I think the jury is still out on whether or not Star Wars: The Force Awakens will become one of the all-time highest grossing movies worldwide. Too many Star Wars fans got burned 16 years ago. They’re waiting to hear back on whether the 2015 film is worth seeing. That’s my theory. What do you think?