Star Wars projected to lift US box office over $11 billion

The record debut this month of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” along with blockbusters like “Jurassic World” earlier in the year, have put the U.S. movie industry on track to crack $11 billion (Dh 40.4 billion) in ticket sales for the first time ever. The North American box office, which includes U.S. and Canadian theaters, is forecast to rise 6.3% to $11.01 billion (Dh 40.44 billion) in 2015, Rentrak Corp. said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. That would surpass the current record of $10.92 billion (Dh 40.11 billion) set in 2013. While the overall number signifies health, studios with massive event movies are outperforming their rivals. Universal Pictures, which released “Jurassic World,” “Furious 7” and “Minions,” leads the industry with 23% of ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. Time Warner Inc., which distributed “American Sniper” in late 2014, is in second place with 18%. Walt Disney Co., with only 11 films, follows with 17%. The company’s releases include “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Inside Out” and “The Force Awakens,” which is still in theaters. The popularity of big films like “The Force Awakens” could give a boost to future movie-going by getting people excited about going to cinemas, said Dave Hollis, executive vice president of distribution at Disney. “An event film like this ends up being something that can drive the business overall, get people back in the habit,” he said on Dec. 20, after “The Force Awakens” delivered its record- breaking opening weekend.

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