Japan’s high on ‘Sith’

Pic beat preview record set by 'Matrix' sequel

Six weeks after “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” launched worldwide, the saga previewed impressively in Japan with a record-setting $4.59 million at 736 on Tuesday.

Fox Intl. and Lucasfilm said the results bode well for the July 9 opening of “Sith” in Japan at 856 playdates. Fox also will hold previews on Saturday.

“Sith,” which has cumed $359 million domestically and $367 million in foreign markets, beat the preview record of $3.52 million set by “The Matrix Reloaded.”

“Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” took in $2.35 million in Japanese previews in 1999, while “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” generated $3.01 million in preview grosses in 2002.

“Phantom Menace” grossed $110 million in Japan; “Clones” took in $78 million. The original “Star Wars” grossed $29.7 million, “The Empire Strikes Back” took in $19.3 million and “Return of the Jedi” raked in $27.2 million.

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