New Star Wars film tops most-anticipated movie list for 2015

A cinema still from Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens, starring John Boyega. -- PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES  
A cinema still from Star Wars: Episode 7 - The Force Awakens, starring John Boyega. -- PHOTO: WALT DISNEY PICTURES  

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The upcoming installment of the Star Wars franchise tops moviegoers' lists of most anticipated films of 2015, ticket seller Fandango said on Tuesday in what Hollywood watchers expect to be a banner box office year for studios.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens highlights a year of big-budget franchise releases that includes runner-up films Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Those films are expected to push challenge 2013's record year of about $11 billion (S$14.53 billion) in US ticket sales. This year so far, films have grossed $9.4 billion domestically, according to boxofficemojo.com.

The new Star Wars film, which will be the first produced by Walt Disney Co, is set to be released on Dec 18 and the reboot of George Lucas' sci-fi universe will be directed by Star Trek filmmaker J.J. Abrams. Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was the top female actor moviegoers wanted to see for the second consecutive year, according to Fandango's survey of more than 1,000 people.

The final installment of Lions Gate's young-adult thriller is scheduled to be released on Nov 20, 2015. This year's installment has so far grossed $306.7 million five weeks into its run at US theaters, the second-highest in 2014 ticket sales behind Guardians of the Galaxy.

Robert Downey Jr, who returns as Tony Stark/Iron Man in the follow-up to Disney's 2012 Avengers superhero film, was the top male actor, according to Fandango.

Other anticipated films include erotic thriller Fifty Shades of Grey, from Universal Pictures' art house unit Focus Features, and Jurassic World, Universal's resurrection of the Jurassic Park dinosaur disaster series.

Fifty Shades star Jamie Dornan was picked as the biggest breakout male star, while Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley was the biggest female breakout star.

The top anticipated family movie was Minions, Universal's next installment in the animated Despicable Me franchise. It was followed by Cinderella, Inside Out, Peanuts and Pan.