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(EXCLUSIVE) #BoxOffice Report: #TheForceAwakens Crushes Several Records in Premiere

Just how big was The Force Awakens this weekend? Read on to find out!

Story by Matt Cummings

Star Wars: The Force Awakens stormed into local theaters over the weekend, setting several box office records along the way. Some could see it coming: October's trailer release on ESPN generated huge interest, which eventually led to a record pre-sale that saw website crashes and frantic efforts by fans to score first-day tickets. On Monday, Disney reported the final stunning numbers: $247.9m domestically, which shatters the previously held record by Jurassic World earlier this year.

And yet, that massive number is only one of several records which The Force Awakens broke. Here are just a few, as provided by BoxOfficeMojo:
  • $57m in its Thursday night "preview", besting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($43.5m)
  • $119.1m on Friday, beating, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($91m)
  • $247.9m domestically, beating Jurassic World ($208.8m)
  • $529m worldwide, beating Jurassic World ($524.9m)
  • The film also was the fastest to hit $100m (1 day), force-choked the December single day and opening weekend records, and set the bar for top domestic IMAX opening weekend at $30.1m.

    With these sorts of numbers, it's time to start thinking about how much it could eventually make and whether it has the muscle to dethrone 2009's Avatar. The answer depends on several factors, chief among them second-weekend numbers. In the case of Harry Potter, it dropped a massive 72% and fizzled out at $381m, a very nice domestic number but far less than Avatar's $760m. TFA must have a strong second weekend - basically a multiplier ABOVE 2.5 times its opening weekend - for it to have any chance of besting Avatar. That's a tall order, given its opening weekend number and the amount of theaters that would have to be packed AGAIN in order to keep that number.

    With China still in play - it won't open there until 2016 - TFA could hit new worldwide numbers fairly fast, or it could merely fizzle like Harry Potter did, once audiences begin to share their experiences of the film. So far, those numbers are holding up well: 95% critics/92% audience approval (Rotten Tomatoes) and 81% on Metacritic. But next weekend also sees four more contenders, none of which might steal No. 1 but will offer resistance to TFA: the comedy Daddy's Home, the Point Break remake, the well-regarded Joy, and the NFL/CTE film Concussion starring Will Smith.

    There were other movies playing this weekend, and contrary to popular opinion some of them actually made money in their openings. At No. 2 was Fox's Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, bringing in $14.2m, which was lower than any of the franchises' previous openings. No. 3 was held by the Universal comedy Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Its $13.9m haul could eventually lead where This is 40 did at around the same time in 2012, which eventually made $75m from a $11.5m opening weekend.

    Fourth place belonged to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The Lionsgate finale took in $5.7M for a domestic cume of $254.5m. Fifth place belonged to Creed, which knocked out an additional $m for an overall $87.8m in just four weeks of release. The Chris Hemsworth/Ron Howard In the Heart of the Sea plunged 69% for a $3.4m total and eighth place.

    Discuss this story with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.
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