Star Wars hits US $2 billion global sales mark, as Panda tops week

 Actress Carrie Fisher reprises her role as an older Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Actress Carrie Fisher reprises her role as an older Princess Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens PHOTO: LUCASFILM LTD

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Star Wars: The Force Awakens has soared to the US$2 billion (S$2.81 billion) mark in global ticket sales, Disney announced Sunday, as the movie landed in fourth place at the North American box office, behind Kung Fu Panda 3 in the top spot.

The latest Star Wars franchise became only the third film ever to reach the US$2 billion mark, and is only the second to do so in a first release, Disney said in a statement.

It also set a domestic record with US$900 million in ticket sales on Wednesday, making it "the only film in history to reach this milestone", Disney reported.

Weekend estimates showed that it would rake in US$6.9 million Friday through Sunday for a grand total of US$906 million since its debut last year.

DreamWorks' computer-animated Kung Fu Panda comedy - the third instalment in the franchise - meanwhile earned some US$21 million in its second weekend out, industry tracker Exhibitor Relations predicted.

Following the adventures of Po as he evolves from martial arts student to teacher, the US-Chinese production features the voices of stars Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie.

The celebrity-studded Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! a 1950s kidnap caper about a Hollywood fixer trying to keep a studio's stars under thumb, debuted in second place with US$11.4 million.

The picture casts George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill side-by-side, among a slew of other well-known faces.

In third place was critically acclaimed The Revenant, a grisly tale of back-country survival and revenge starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, which has been showered with Oscar nominations, earned an estimated US$7.1 million.

Coming in fifth behind Star Wars was The Choice, a romantic-drama based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. The film, typical of the Sparks genre (he is also the author behind The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle) raked in some US$6.1 million.

Rounding out the estimates for the rest of the top ten were: - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, US $5.2 million - The Finest Hours, US$4.7 million - Ride Along 2, US $4.100 million - The Boy, just under US$4.098 million - Dirty Grandpa, US$4.050 million.