The Force takes in record $353m

Fans wearing Stormtrooper helmets in a food court ahead of the first public screening of The Force Awakens in Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. Fans posing with members of Malaysia's Star Wars Fan Club dressed as various characters before watching The Force A
Fans posing with members of Malaysia's Star Wars Fan Club dressed as various characters before watching The Force Awakens in Subang, Malaysia.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Fans wearing Stormtrooper helmets in a food court ahead of the first public screening of The Force Awakens in Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. Fans posing with members of Malaysia's Star Wars Fan Club dressed as various characters before watching The Force A
Fans wearing Stormtrooper helmets in a food court ahead of the first public screening of The Force Awakens in Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LOS ANGELES • Star Wars: The Force Awakens had collected a galactic US$250 million (S$353 million) in global ticket sales by last Friday as it headed towards a historic opening weekend in North America.

The seventh movie in the beloved space saga was expected to sell more than US$220 million of tickets in American and Canadian theatres by yesterday, beating the record US$208.8 million for Jurassic World in June, Walt Disney Co said last Saturday.

Fans around the world revelled in the return of the series. Thousands gathered for a friendly lightsaber battle in downtown Los Angeles last Friday and moviegoers in cities such as Berlin and Paris arrived at screenings wearing Stormtrooper costumes, Jedi robes and Darth Vader masks.

The Force Awakens has already smashed several film industry records.

It had pulled in US$120.5 million by last Friday, its first full day in North American theatres, the highest single-day ticket sales ever.

That includes a chart-topping US$57 million from fans who flocked to see the first showings last Thursday night.

Last Saturday's receipts were expected to total US$60 million, Disney said.

The Force Awakens began rolling out in global markets last Wednesday. By last Friday, international ticket sales had reached US$129.5 million as the movie set opening-day records in Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil and other countries.

The new film is the first instalment in a decade in the series, which was created by George Lucas in 1977. Disney bought Lucasfilm for US$4 billion in 2012 and spent more than US$200 million to produce The Force Awakens.

The movie has opened in all markets except Greece and India, where it starts playing on Christmas Eve, and China, which has set a Jan 9 debut. China is the world's second-largest film market.

The Force Awakens has a shot at becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time, analysts said. The current record-holder is Avatar, which generated US$2.8 billion worldwide after its December 2009 release.

Critics applauded The Force Awakens, which features newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac alongside original stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

The movie, directed by J.J. Abrams, received a 95 per cent score on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Ticket buyers gave it an A grade in CinemaScore exit polls, Disney said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'The Force takes in record $353m'. Print Edition | Subscribe