‘Force Awakens’ Destroys ‘Harry Potter’s’ Thursday Night Record in U.S.

'Force Awakens' Destroys 'Harry Potter's' Thursday
Ray Tang/REX/Shutterstock

The Force has topped Harry Potter as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” took in $57 million in opening Thursday-night preview shows in the U.S., setting its first box office record.

“The Force Awakens” easily beat the previous Thursday-night preview record of $43.5 million by Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” set in July 2011.

The first showings of the seventh Star Wars movie generated 47% of its U.S. preview grosses from 3D screenings, including $5.7 millions from 391 Imax screens, nearly doubling the previous record. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has also taken in $72.7 million from its first two days in 44 international markets.

The seventh Star Wars movie — which generated hundreds of sold-out shows and thousands of fans showing up in costume — was so powerful that it grossed about 70 times the amount taken in Thursday night by previews of Universal’s Tina Fey-Amy Poehler comedy “Sisters,” which drew $769,000 at 2,220 theaters.

The U.S. showings of Disney-Lucasfilm’s “The Force Awakens,” directed by J.J. Abrams, began at 7 p.m. following months of a massive marketing build-up by Disney. The cast includes Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson along with original “Star Wars” stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

In a sign of sky-high anticipation, the seventh film in the iconic science-fiction franchise had set a record by selling more than $100 million worth of advance tickets domestically as of Tuesday — raising expectations that “The Force Awakens” will do more than $200 million worth of business on its opening weekend domestically. The current record for a launch weekend was set in June by Universal’s “Jurassic World” with $208.4 million, followed by 2012’s “The Avengers” at $207.4 million.

Rival studios and industry analysts have asserted in recent days that “The Force Awakens” will open to $210 million or more domestically.

Disney hasn’t offered a forecast but its marketing campaign has clearly tapped into an enormous pent-up demand for the return of Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Han Solo, plus the new characters and story line. The movie is opening three years after Disney paid  $4.06 billion for Lucasfilm.

“The Force Awakens” is set 30 years after the events of 1983’s “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.” The film will be in a total of 4,134 North American locations on Friday — a record for a December opening.

“The Force Awakens” also debuted in a dozen international markets on Wednesday with a total of $14.1 million at the international box office, then added $58.6 million on Thursday as it opened in 32 more territories and set single-day reocords in the U.K., Germany, Sweden and Norway.

The film, which carries a production cost of at least $200 million, will open in most other markets Friday. It could eclipse the international opening weekend record of $316.1 million, set again by “Jurassic World.”

“The Force Awakens” is the first Star Wars movie since Fox released George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” a decade ago. “Sith” generated nearly $850 million in worldwide box office.

Anticipation is so high that speculation has already emerged that “The Force Awakens” could set a new record for worldwide gross by passing “Avatar” at $2.78 billion.

“Sisters” will likely pull in $13 million from 2,961 North American theaters this weekend as Universal offers counterprogramming for  comedy fans. Fey and Poehler portray siblings throwing a blow-out bash in their childhood home with a production cost of $30 million.

Fox is attempting to draw younger children this weekend with “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.” The fourth installment in the Alvin series should make $12 million from 3,653 locations.

Watch the cast of “Star Wars” hum the theme song at premiere:

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 5

Leave a Reply

5 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Tye Watson says:

    That’s ok, but don’t for a second think that we Potterheads aren’t coming back for a title when Fantastic Beasts is released!

  2. LOL says:

    America loves crap…. as do a lot of places, it seems.

  3. Scott Overcash says:

    Anybody going to account for inflation? It could be a factor with a four year gap. Just sayin.’

  4. Aaron Prechtl says:

    Six years ago Disney purchased Marvel. In 2012 Lucasfilm was acquired.

More Film News from Variety

Loading