UPDATE, WRITETHRU: With a $52.6M two-day China opening this weekend, Star Wars: The Force Awakens set a new record as the biggest Saturday/Sunday Middle Kingdom debut of all time. That was after it landed in the PROC, its final market, on Saturday with an estimated $33M bow. Although early figures will still need to be fully confirmed, with reporting out of the market not yet official, The Force was indeed very strong in China. This is thanks to a slow-build and savvy marketing campaign by Disney to familiarize locals with the franchise over the past year. Midnights were well-attended Friday and TFA‘s full-day launch on Saturday was the highest-grossing ever for the studio in the Middle Kingdom, as well as the highest Saturday start in industry history.
IMAX plays in China were on 270 screens for a best-ever Saturday of $4.3M. (27.7M yuan). Avengers: Age Of Ultron was the previous title holder at 22.82M yuan. The two-day weekend for IMAX was $8.1M, far outpacing Ultron‘s $6.6M high.
The full global weekend was $145.93M and blasts TFA past Jurassic World to become the No. 3 movie ever at the worldwide box office. The global cume is now $1.734B compared to JW‘s $1.669B. There’s still a lot of water to cross between JJ Abrams’ continuation of the saga and the No. 2 worldwide movie ever, Titanic, which has a global cume of $2,186.8M.
The full offshore weekend gross in this 4th frame was $104M, up 8.9% from last frame, and lifts TFA to the No. 7 slot on the all-time international box office chart with $921.2M to date. That takes it past Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Frozen and The Avengers. The Resistance should also knock out Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($946M) and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 ($960.5M) this week to move up to No. 5 of all time internationally with $1B in its sights.
Other milestones achieved this weekend include a global $19M on 940 IMAX screens which well outstrips previous 4th weekend winner Avatar‘s $12.27M. The worldwide IMAX total is a fantastic $179M in record-breaking time. It took Avatar 58 days to reach $175M; the Millennium Falcon made the $179M IMAX run in 26 parsecs, er, days. Holdover engagements are averaging $250K+ per IMAX screen.
Among new overall benchmarks: TFA has become the highest-grossing Disney release ever in Russia ($25.3M) and the No. 3 in industry history.
In other individual markets, TFA passed Skyfall on Thursday to become the biggest movie ever released in the UK. The cume there is now $161.4M (£108.8M) through Sunday. Germany, at No. 1 for the 4th session in a row, is closing in on $100M with $94.7M to date, and France (also still No. 1) is nearing $80M with $76.6M so far. Of the other Top 5 markets, Australia’s $57.6M cume makes TFA the No. 2 biggest grosser of all time. Japan lifted its cume to $65.5M, dropping just 33% over the week.
Turning back to China, here are a couple of opening comps: Jurassic World bowed on a June Wednesday last year with $17.24M and went on to cume $229M. Ultron kicked off in May on a Tuesday with $33.9M (210.5M yuan vs TFA’s 217.5M on Saturday) for a $240M final tally. Furious 7 bowed on a Sunday with about $69M, before riding all the way to $390M and the top-grossing spot ever in the Middle Kingdom (before Monster Hunt passed it this fall). Transformers: Age Of Extinction, which was China’s biggest grossing movie before F7, opened to $30M on a Friday in summer 2014 and scaled up to $320M.
With figures not yet confirmed by Disney for China, we will continue watching the progress this week which will be telling. Currently the market has a number of holdovers which were far, far behind TFA in the frame. Newcomers in the next two frames include local romcoms, always susceptible to lure the main Middle Kingdom demo, along with the continuation of the animated Boonie Bears franchise which skews younger. If screen counts hold and word of mouth is strong, TFA should continue to find sturdy space legs until Kung Fu Panda 3 kicks in on January 29.