LOS ANGELES - The upcoming instalment 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 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 instalment of Lions Gate's young-adult thriller is scheduled to be released on Nov. 20, 2015. This year's instalment has so far grossed $306.7 million five weeks into its run at US theatres, 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 instalment in the animated "Despicable Me" franchise. It was followed by "Cinderella," "Inside Out," "Peanuts" and "Pan."