Key among the new records set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens this weekend is the IMAX performance which blew previous milestones out of the galaxy. The Force Awakens played on 667 IMAX screens around the world, blasting off with $48M. That shattered the $44.1M previous global opening record set by Jurassic World this summer. Again, it bears noting that China was not in the Force field of opening markets this frame, whereas it was for JW. On a like-for-like basis without the Middle Kingdom involved, Star Wars nearly doubled the $25.2M previous global opening record set by Avengers: Age Of Ultron. IMAX will have SWTFA on 270 screens when it bows in China on January 9.
Breaking down the milestones: Friday’s $17.7M is now the highest one-day gross in IMAX history; the domestic Friday take of $14M is the best day ever in North America; and the $4.8M Saturday gross is the best overseas performance on a single day when China was not among the market suite.
Looking solely at domestic, there were almost non-stop sell-outs, from late night to early morning and across all geographic zones. The record opening is $30.1M on 391 screens, besting JW‘s $20.9M. Of the total domestic IMAX locations, 350 produced record-setting results with a $77K per-screen average. Seven of the top 10, and 15 of the top 20 domestic locations were IMAX engagements. Based on an overall estimated domestic take of $238M for the weekend, IMAX was worth 12.65% of that.
Overseas, the launch was $17.9M, or $65.4K per screen at 276 IMAX locations. That’s the format’s biggest-ever offshore kickoff for a day-and-date release, excluding China. It more than doubled Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2‘s $8M.
Among the best-ever debut weekends were in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Germany, Turkey, Portugal, Switzerland, Israel, Italy, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Singapore.
IMAX is expecting long legs for JJ Abrams’ update on the space odyssey and will continue to play it well into next year — its next wide commitment is February 12 with Deadpool.
IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster marvels at besting the company’s domestic record by $10M and praises the work of Disney, Lucasfilm and Bad Robot in the build-up. “In the grand scheme of things, this is the movie buisness. It’s all about first impressions. This campaign and the way the movie was so incredibly designed and released strategically” will result in “reading case studies about it in business school.” And, JJ Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy “delivered an incredible film” which incidentally used IMAX cameras for some work. “The stars aligned,” says Foster, “no pun intended.”