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Star Wars: The Last Jedi enjoys near-record $220 million US opening

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Story by Jack Foley

STAR Wars: The Last Jedi has enjoyed a near-record US opening, taking a massive $220 million in its opening weekend.

The figure was just 11% behind the record-breaking launch of JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens, which took $247.9 million on the same weekend in 2015, a rare feat in the age of sequels.

But the opening figure delivered American box office tills an early Christmas present, with revenue for the weekend up by over 30% on the same weekend last year.

And the news was equally as good for Disney and Lucasfilm internationally, where The Last Jedi soared to $230 million from 54 markets for a worldwide total of $450 million. The film has yet to open in China, where it rolls out January 5 owing to releasing restrictions in that country this time of year.

Back in the US, The Last Jedi‘s total makes it only of only three films to open to $200 million or more after The Force Awakens, Universal’s Jurassic World ($208.8 million) and fellow Disney title The Avengers ($207.4 million), not accounting for inflation.

The Star Wars series is now the first film franchise in history to see two instalments clear $200 million in another win for the Disney production empire and marketing team.

The Last Jedi – aka Episode VIII – reunites many of the new Star Wars actors introduced in The Force Awakens, including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o. It also delivers prominent roles for original stars Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, to whom the movie is dedicated.

Franchise newcomers include Kelly Maria Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro.

The story picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey (Ridley) seeking out Luke (Hamill) to help the Resistance (led by Fisher’s Leia) and its fight against the villainous Kylo Ren (Driver) and The First Order.

In what is proving to be a very happy year end for all things Disney, The Last Jedi‘s successful launch completes a memorable week in which the company confirmed a $52.4 billion bid to buy major 21st Century Fox assets, including the film studio.

In other US box office news, animated family movie Ferdinand took second spot with $13.3 million – the lowest debut of any Fox Animation/Blue Sky title.

However, its distributor, Fox, believes the film will enjoy a strong run over the holidays thanks to younger tots and their parents looking for something to do other than going to see Star Wars.

By way of example, Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened opposite The Force Awakens in 2015 to just $14.3 million on its way to collecting $85.9 million in the US alone.

Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Ferdinand is loosely based on the classic children’s book about a peace-loving Spanish bull who would rather while away the hours smelling flowers and daydreaming than entering the bull-fighting arena.

Disney-Pixar’s Coco, now in its fourth weekend, led the rest of the pack with an estimated $9.7 million, which was enough to lift the animated musical to past $150 million in the US.

At the specialty box office, Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-tipped The Shape of Water received a major boost after collecting seven Golden Globe nominations, taking $1.7 million from 158 locations for an early US total of $3.6 million.