Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker battles to US$40m domestic opening night

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"Star Wars" movie "The Rise of Skywalker" blasted into theaters with US$374 million in global ticket sales over the weekend as fans rushed to see the final chapter in the long-running film saga, distributor Walt Disney Co said on Sunday.
Rise Of Skywalker moviegoers dressed as Star Wars characters take a selfie in Beijing. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - The highly anticipated movie Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker collected US$40 million (S$54 million) in US and Canadian ticket sales on its opening night on Thursday (Dec 19), according to estimates from distributor Walt Disney.

The total for the ninth installment in the story of a fabled Jedi warrior in a galaxy far, far away ranked as the fifth-highest domestic opening night of all time, Disney said.

In international markets, Rise Of Skywalker has brought in an additional US$59.1 million, the company said.

The debut in the United States and Canada, the world's latest film market, came in lower than the last two Star Wars films.

The Force Awakens, released in 2015, hauled in US$57 million on its first night in theatres, and 2017 installment The Last Jedi took in US$45 million.

The movie directed by JJ Abrams is billed as the final episode in a 42-year-old film saga begun by George Lucas in 1977.

The latest episode stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac as a trio taking up the fight against the evil First Order.

While Rise Of Skywalker has divided critics, Disney said fans have embraced it. Eighty-six per cent of ticket buyers surveyed by website Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a positive score, Disney said.

At a theatre in Hollywood, costumed fans turned out for a 24-hour marathon of all nine films.

"I started this when I was five, the adventure," moviegoer Mark Masaoay said. "And 42 years later here we are. It's been an amazing journey and just to be here with all the like-minded people, the fans, it just makes it all the more worthwhile."

By Sunday, the movie is expected to land among the biggest openings of all time. Force Awakens went on to generate US$248 million in ticket sales over its first weekend, while Last Jedi took in US$220 million.

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The record for a Thursday night opening belongs to Disney's April release, Avengers: Endgame, which pulled in US$60 million in its debut on its way to US$357 million for the weekend, also a record.

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