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Star Wars: The Force Awakens secures biggest US opening of all-time

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Story by Jack Foley

STAR Wars: The Force Awakens has secured the biggest opening of all-time in the US.

The seventh instalment in the franchise, directed by JJ Abrams and released 10 years after the last film, took a whopping $238 million, easily besting this summer’s Jurassic World with $208.8 million. It also obliterated the previous December record set by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which debuted to $84.6 million in 2012.

The opening figure marks a vindication for Disney’s decision to pay George Lucas $4 billion for the rights to the franchise while also setting a new standard for how much the US box office can expand and take when the right movie comes along. It will therefore make other studios decide on how to realise such box office potential with their own franchise or event releases.

Commenting in a statement, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said: “Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience, and director J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and the Lucasfilm team have outdone themselves.”

Other notable records The Force Awakens claimed in the US were widest December release of all time (it opened in 4,134 cinemas), biggest Thursday-night previews (when it took $57 million), biggest single day and biggest opening day ($120.5 million) and first film to cross $100 million in a single day. It is also the fastest film to pass the $100 million and $200 million benchmarks.

Globally, the news was also good. The film took $279 million to notch the third highest opening of all time behind Jurassic World ($316 million) and the final Harry Potter film ($314 million) – although both of those films could count on China to augment their figures.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently prevented from opening in China until January owing to a rule that only home-made movies can be released in that country during the month of December.

However, when the US figures are added to the international ones, The Force Awakens still recorded the second-biggest start of all time behind Jurassic World ($517 million as opposed to the latter’s $524.9 million).

Heading back overseas, the film also secured the biggest opening weekend ever in the UK ($48.9 million), Germany ($27.3 million), Australia ($18.9 million) and Russia ($12.3 million).

Only two other two films dared to open nationwide this weekend: Universal’s raunchy, R-rated comedy Sisters, starring Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler, and Fox’s animated sequel Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. And the good news was they didn’t lose out as much as some had feared.

Alvin‘s fourth film took the No. 2 spot with $14.4 million, which marked the lowest opening in the franchise to date, but which still places it in a strong position for a solid seasonal run for those not yet old enough for Star Wars.

And Sisters placed third with $13.4 million and attracted largely female viewers (76%), which also places it well to continue doing so by offering an alternative to the more male-orientated Star Wars.

Overall, US box office revenue hit an all-time high, crossing $300 million for the first time ever.

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