‘Star Wars’ Becomes the Highest-Grossing Film in U.S. History

All hail the king.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has soared past “Avatar” to become the top-grossing film in North America. On Wednesday, the seventh film in the space opera saga surpassed “Avatar’s” $760.5 million lifetime gross in just 20 days of release.

“We are proud of these records, but know that they would not be possible without fans’ enthusiasm and continued support,” Disney said in a statement. “We feel it here and it drives us every day, and it will continue to in the very bright future of Star Wars. There has indeed been an awakening — and it’s all thanks to you.”

One important caveat is that this massive haul does not account for inflation. When pricing increases are factored in, “Gone With the Wind” remains the highest-grossing film in history with $1.7 billion and the first “Star Wars” is runner-up with $1.5 billion. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in 21st place behind classics such as “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”

Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the fourth highest-grossing pic in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It opens this weekend in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.

Disney, the studio behind “The Force Awakens,” spent more than $4 billion in 2012 to purchase Lucasfilm and with it the rights to the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises. It then announced plans to release a new trilogy of films, as well as several spinoffs and prequels. Beyond its box office success, “The Force Awakens” seems to have gotten things off on the right foot. The sequel and its director J.J. Abrams have been praised for recapturing the spirit of adventure that helped make George Lucas’ initial three films cultural touchstones for a generation of moviegoers.

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