New ‘Star Wars’ sets $57 mln opening night record

The latest instalment of the highly anticipated space epic raked in $57 million dollars for its opening night Thursday

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has set a new opening night record in the United States and Canada and was poised to become one of the biggest grossing movies ever, industry experts said Friday.

The latest instalment of the highly anticipated space epic raked in $57 million dollars for its opening night Thursday, beating the previous record -- $43.5 million -- held by “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in 2011.

“This represents a new record for the industry and portends a massive and potentially record-breaking opening day and weekend for the film,” said Paul Dergarabedian, of box office tracker Rentrak.

The “Harry Potter” film holds the all-time record for opening day at $91 million, but the new “Star Wars” is expected to also force it out of that slot.

Overall, “The Force Awakens” has grossed some $130 million dollars worldwide since it opened overseas on Wednesday, setting records in Britain, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Analysts predict that the seventh instalment of the iconic space saga, which cost Disney an estimated $200 million to produce, could score the biggest opening weekend ever and could even become the biggest film of all time.

The opening weekend record is currently held by “Jurassic World” which premiered earlier this year to $208.8 million at the box office.

As far as all-time box office sales, two films by James Cameron hold the record -- “Avatar” ($2.78 billion) and “Titanic” ($2.18).

“The potential for ‘The Force Awakens’ to ultimately break into the $2 billion club worldwide is certainly in the realm of possibility,” Dergarabedian said.

Added Jeff Bock, box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations: “As far as breaking records go, it’s the strongest candidate weve seen in a long, long time.

“It might join the $2 billion club worldwide, and maybe, just maybe, be the highest grossing film of all-time.”

Disney, which bought the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise from its creator Georges Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, has built up the hype around “The Force Awakens,” rolling out a well-orchestrated marketing campaign that has left fans wanting more.

Early reviews of the movie have given it a thumbs up, and three more instalments are due in the coming years.

“The Force Awakens” picks up the intergalactic story of good versus evil 30 years on from “The Return of the Jedi,” the finale of the original trilogy.
The trio of heroes who appeared in the first of the blockbusters in 1977 -- smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) -- are all back and played by the actors that Star Wars first made famous.

The film is being screened in 4,134 theatres in North America, a record for a December opening.

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