'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

  • Queens of the ring: Netflix's Glow puts spotlight on women's wrestling, then and now

    Entertainment CBC News
    In the first episode of Netflix's Glow, Ruth Wilder, an aspiring, down-on-her-luck actor (played by Alison Brie), is training inside a wrestling ring. She's one of a dozen or so prospects for Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a women's wrestling show headed by Sam Silvia (Marc Maron), an ornery director whose B-movie credits include titles such as Blood Disco. Source
  • Former 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' star Nicholas Brendon strangled woman, slit wrists with glass: Police report

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Nicholas Brendon just can’t stop getting himself into trouble, and this may be his worst incident yet. Brendon, 46, was arrested for domestic abuse on October 18, 2016, his fifth arrest in three years, in a shocking police report exclusively obtained by Radaronline.com. Source
  • Wonder Woman weds Deadpool at comics convention

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Imagine a wedding between Wonder Woman and Deadpool, attended by Mary Poppins, Superman, Dr. Who, Kylo Ren and the Little Mermaid. More than 100 costume-clad nerds, cosplayers, gamers and fantasists gathered June 17 to celebrate the real-life union of Megan Mattingly and Adam Merica, dressed as Wonder Woman and Deadpool, at Awesome Con, an annual Washington comic book and pop-culture convention that drew approximately 71,000 visitors last weekend. Source
  • Slip of tongue fuels speculation on Banksy identity

    Entertainment CTV News
    An unguarded moment in an interview has renewed speculation over one of contemporary art's great mysteries -- could elusive graffiti activist Banksy be Robert Del Naja of band Massive Attack? Goldie, a well-known DJ who was a friend and competitor of Del Naja as the two sprayed Bristol in southwest England with graffiti in the 1980s, made an apparent slip of the tongue in an interview this week. Source
  • More than meets the why? The cinematic slurry that is Transformers: The Last Knight

    Entertainment CBC News
    In the world of modern day blockbusters there is a phrase you hear a lot. "Trailer Moments." Every action film has to have a few. A trailer moment is something larger-than-life. The hero escaping just as the explosion blooms behind her. Source
  • 'The Fault in Our Stars' author announces next novel

    Entertainment CTV News
    John Green, author of the much-loved book "The Fault in Our Stars," has revealed that his next novel will come out on October 10 with the title "Turtles All the Way Down." According to the plot summary, the forthcoming novel focuses on Aza Holmes, a young woman "navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. Source
  • Ron Howard hopes to honour 'great work' done on Han Solo film

    Entertainment CBC News
    Ron Howard says he hopes to honour the great work that's already been done on the Han Solo film and help to deliver on its promise. The Oscar-winner has only been in the pilot's seat on the Star Wars spinoff film for a day but is not wasting any time making his passion for the franchise known. Source
  • 'Transformers: The Last Knight,' Johnny Depp and the Bey-bies and other winners and losers in Hollywood this week

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    You know the song: Some gotta win, some gotta lose Good time Charlie's got the blues. Never mind about that Charlie dude though — let’s just get to the winning and losing this week: WINNERS 1) It was announced earlier this week that Jay-Z and Beyonce have new infant twins, a boy and a girl, although an exact birth date has not yet been confirmed. Source
  • William Shatner on Canada's 150th: 'I was there for Confederation'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    William Shatner doesn’t get all the fuss about Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1. “I was there at Confederation,” jokes Shatner, not quite Canada’s age at 86. “I said to John A.,” he continues, “you know, you should incorporate this country. Source
  • 'It’s a beautiful (Canada) day': Bono, The Edge to attend Parliament Hill festivities

    Entertainment CTV News
    Two unexpected visitors will be dropping into the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill next weekend. U2 frontman Bono and lead guitarist The Edge will make an appearance for the July 1 bash, says Heritage Minister Melanie Joly, who tweeted out the news on Friday. Source