'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' heading for $215 million-plus weekend

NEW YORK -- "Star Wars" fever has spread through movie theatres around the globe, even reaching the White House, as the franchise yet again began toppling box-office records with waves of lightsaber-wielding fans.

See Full Article

Following a record $57 million from Thursday night showings in North America, and packed matinees on Friday, the Walt Disney Co. projected that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will surpass $215 million on the weekend, besting the record domestic opening of "Jurassic World," which debuted with $208.8 million in June.

Such an outcome would surprise few analysts, but the numbers were nevertheless eye-popping. "The Force Awakens" was heading toward a Thursday night-Friday total of more than $120 million domestically, said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. The previous one-day high was $91.1 million set by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" in 2011.

In such rarified territory, Disney has been cautious about overestimating the box-office force of J.J. Abrams' seventh chapter in George Lucas' space saga. Based on the early response, many analysts have the film pegged for a weekend total closer to $250 million -- far above "Jurassic World."

Disney's biggest worry has been that moviegoers will be too daunted by sold-out shows and long lines. More than $100 million advance tickets (also a record) were sold ahead of the opening of "The Force Awakens," much of those going toward Thursday and Friday shows. Saturday and Sunday will depend more on traditional walk-up business. Hollis said exhibitors are continually adding more screenings to satisfy demand.

The international rollout for the film, made for about $200 million, has already brought in an estimated total of $72.7 million since opening in a handful of countries Wednesday. "The Force Awakens" is simultaneously opening around the world just about everywhere but China, where it debuts in January.

It's setting records overseas, too, including the biggest single day ever in the United Kingdom with an estimated $14.4 million on Thursday.

While "Star Wars" helped create the summer blockbuster, "The Force Awakens" is debuting in the holiday season of December, where the previous top opening was the $84.6 million debut of 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." By Disney's estimates, "The Force Awakens" -- the widest December opening ever with 4,134 theatres -- blew past that number by Friday afternoon.

Imax and 3-D screenings are helping to propel the record gross. Disney said that 47 per cent of the Thursday box office came from 3-D showings and $5.7 million from Imax screens.

A lot is riding on the film for Disney, which paid $4.06 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012. Sequels and spinoffs are already in development for years to come, not to mention an entire corner of Disneyland devoted to the franchise.

Strong reviews for the film, which is set 30 years after "Return of the Jedi," have added to the fervour for "The Force Awakens." Critics have hailed it as a fan-friendly return to form for the franchise; the American Film Institute listed it among its top 10 films of the year.

Such a positive reaction for "The Force Awakens" may attract the kind of repeat viewings that made James Cameron's "Avatar" and "Titanic" the highest grossing films of all time. Whether "The Force Awakens" can come close to the global hauls of those films ($2.8 billion for "Avatar" and $2.2 billion for "Titanic") won't be clear for weeks.

But so far, "The Force Awakens" is attracting the interest of seemingly everyone. President Barack Obama began a year-end news conference Friday noting, "Clearly, this is not the most important event that's taking place in the White House today." Soon to begin was a screening of the film for families who have lost a relative to combat or service-related injuries.

After fielding questions, Obama concluded the press conference: "OK everybody, I got to get to 'Star Wars.' "



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Disney names new Animation, Pixar chiefs post-Lasseter

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn says Tuesday that Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter are taking over for former Disney animation and Pixar chief John Lasseter, who is departing Disney at the end of the year following misconduct allegations. Source
  • Prosecutors decline sex assault charges against Scott Baio

    Entertainment CBC News
    Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Scott Baio stemming from allegations by his former Charles in Charge co-star that he sexually assaulted her. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided Monday not to file charges, saying in an evaluation that the statute of limitations had expired. Source
  • Willie Nelson, Oprah, Judd Apatow and many others decry U.S. border policy

    Entertainment CBC News
    Country music icon Willie Nelson has extended an offer to meet President Donald Trump at one of the detention centres at the U.S.-Mexico border to better understand what's happening, the latest attempt by a celebrity hoping to end the administration's policy of separating families at border crossings. Source
  • Colombian singer at World Cup reports hotel theft in Moscow

    Entertainment CTV News
    Colombian singer Maluma, right, gesture next to Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona, left, at the end of a training session of the Mexico national soccer team, for the 2018 soccer World Cup, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Source
  • Michael Jackson stage musical vying for Broadway run

    Entertainment CBC News
    A musical about the King of Pop is moonwalking its way to Broadway. The Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage on Tuesday unveiled plans for a stage musical inspired by the life of Michael Jackson. Source
  • As MTV Awards fete Black Panther, star honours real-life hero

    Entertainment CBC News
    The MTV Movie & TV Awards gave Black PantherĀ its first taste of awards glory, with Marvel's blockbuster taking home four honours including two awards for its star, Chadwick Boseman. Boseman quickly handed off his best hero award to James Shaw Jr. Source
  • Bruce Springsteen performs at benefit at bowling alley

    Entertainment CTV News
    ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- Bruce Springsteen helped rock a refurbished 1960s bowling alley-turned music venue near the Asbury Park boardwalk. Actor Hugh Jackman was in the house at the Asbury Lanes on Monday night as Springsteen jammed for about 30 minutes with Tangiers Blues Band. Source
  • Musical about Michael Jackson being written by Lynn Nottage

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - A musical about the King of Pop is moonwalking to Broadway. The Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage are unveiling plans for a stage musical inspired by the life of Michael Jackson. Source
  • Rising rapper Jimmy Wopo shot dead in Pittsburgh

    Entertainment CTV News
    PITTSBURGH - Up-and-coming rapper Jimmy Wopo has been shot and killed in Pittsburgh. Police say Wopo was killed and another man injured when someone opened fire on their car in the city's Hill District Monday afternoon. Source
  • No motive, arrests in fatal shooting of rapper XXXTentacion

    Entertainment CTV News
    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. -- Troubled rapper-singer XXXTentacion was shot and killed Monday in Florida in what police called an apparent robbery attempt. Investigators don't have a motive, and no arrests have been made. The 20-year-old rising star, whose real name is Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy, was pronounced dead Monday evening at a Fort Lauderdale-area hospital, the Broward Sheriff's Office said. Source