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‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ opens to record haul

The Walt Disney Co. earnings destroy the previous opening record set by Jurassic World, which drew $208.8 million this summer.

In the U.S., “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” previously held the record for Thursday night sales with a total of $43.5 million and a Friday total of $91 million. This weekend’s monster opening gives Force Awakens records for biggest Thursday night opening, biggest single-day gross, biggest December opening, and of course, biggest opening weekend.

The new “Star Wars” film is the seventh installment in the series created by George Lucas in 1977. Disney said theaters were adding showtimes to meet “unprecedented demand”.

At the White House, R2-D2 and two Stormtroopers surprised reporters with a quick appearance in the briefing room.

Over the weekend, fans reveled in the chance to visit the “Star Wars” galaxy for the first time in a decade.

Nomura Securities analyst Anthony DiClemente, who rates Disney a “buy”, said he was more confident after seeing the movie that it could become the top-grossing film of all time. By Disney’s estimates, “The Force Awakens” – the widest December opening ever with 4,134 theatres – blew past that number by Friday afternoon. Disney said that 47 per cent of the Thursday box office came from 3-D showings and $5.7 million from Imax screens.

That honor went to a special screening of “The Force Awakens” for Gold Star families who have lost relatives to combat- or service-related injuries.

Without “Star Wars“, local Chinese films dominated the world’s second-largest film market.

Early reviews of the movie have given it a big thumbs-up and three more instalments are due in the coming years. It’s Star Wars, after all. “Force Awakens” toys, clothing, home accessories and video games already pervade stores ahead of Christmas. President Barack Obama began a year-end news conference Friday noting, “Clearly, this is not the most important event that’s taking place in the White House today”. “Avatar” now holds that title with $2.8 billion in global sales.

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