Star Wars: Last Jedi sees strong early start at the box office

Fans take photos of R2-D2, a stormtrooper and C-3PO from Star Wars before the Last Jedi premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (WASHINGTON POST) - Walt Disney's latest Star Wars film posted an estimated US$45 million (S$60 million) in the US and Canada during Thursday previews, an early return surpassed only by its predecessor in the space saga.

The initial box-office sales for The Last Jedi were 21 per cent less than the 2015 Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens.

The earlier movie holds the record for revenue from Thursday preview screenings thanks to pent-up demand, since it was the first film in the series in a decade.

Thursday's total was 55 per cent higher than last year's spinoff movie, Rogue One.

The Last Jedi has been opening worldwide this week with the exception of China, where its debuts Jan 5.

Disney has indicated the film's first weekend in North America will draw about US$200 million. For international markets, Disney isn't providing a forecast.

The Force Awakens holds the current record for opening-weekend sales outside the US with US$281 million.

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Imax previews for The Last Jedi generated an estimated US$5.3 million, about the same as The Force Awakens got during its Thursday opening, which also set a record, Disney said.

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