By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Dec 17, 2015 at 12:26 PM

When the weekend is over, chances are the latest "Star Wars" film will have broken a number of box office records across the globe. The new chapter in the franchise has an international opening, and chances are pretty good that dollar-for-dollar, the movie will be a smashing success.

One record being pushed by the film isn’t talked about much, but it means more for the future of the movie industry than the likes of us in the audience will ever know.


In an era when storywriters hardly find big successes on original ideas, the filmmaking industry is standing on shaky ground. Some films earlier this year had a shortened window of cinema release before it found its way to a digital download stream. Producers and distributors are not seeing the big paydays that they once had.

With many of us carrying a smart device on us wherever we go, we have access to watch a film whenever the mood strikes. For us to take the time to go to a movie theater and watch a story with a group of strangers, well, it takes time or a special event for droves of people to even show up to fill a row of seats.

The industry has been grasping at whatever idea sticks to the wall to be the savior in a time where budgets and bottom lines need to be bigger commercial successes.

Preorders, seen by many at the major studios, is a place where the industry can prove itself. Before a single person sees the newest tale from far, far away, more than $100 million tickets will have been ordered through cell phones, computers or at the box office window.

That top dollar record, which "Star Wars" will likely break, is a proof of performance for the industry. It is a tangible show of support for an industry that could at any given moment see the floor drop beneath it.

For producers to pour money into a movie, it is a huge gamble. Proof of performance, which "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will provide, shows that breathing new life into a film that worked a generation before can still attract large audiences to venture away from home.

Sure, movies will still be made and produced for digital streams of the now, and in the future. The question is, in an era where fear and politics has millions worried about what ifs and threats real and imagined, for how long will people be willing to go see a film on a large screen?

The multiplex owners know that to be successful, they need the buzz of anticipation to get people to show up. The theater owners need audience members to buy popcorn, drinks and candy to earn a profit.

The theaters need "Star Wars" fans, and they need them to not only stay in business, but to keep an industry going for another generation.

"Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens" will open at midnight Thursday, and its full theatrical release begins on Friday. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is next in the plans, which is slated to be released in December 2016.

"Star Wars: Episode VIII" is expected for May 2017. From there, the next movie penciled on the calendar is the Han Solo "Star Wars Anthology" movie in May 2018. "Star Wars: Episode IX" is set for 2019 and a third "Star Wars Anthology" film will come in five years, in 2020.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.