Even before the bell rang to let kids out of schools on the West Coast to begin their holiday break, Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens had already surpassed $100M at the nation’s box office. According to information compiled by Rentrak and Disney, once the lights went down for the 1 PM show in Los Angeles, the seventh installment of the franchise passed the $100M threshold, the fastest ever.
With the largest number of theaters ever secured for a December release and 473 more locations than any other Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens has unleashed its wrath on box office records, easily striking them down one by one. In Thursday previews (which started at 7 PM and was calculated through 6 AM this morning), it grabbed ahold of $57M to smash preview records. Next, in about 21 hours in 4,134 theaters, it had broken Harry Potter’s wand to take the the single biggest box office day in history from the Deathly Hallow’s – Part 2 ($91M vs. Star Wars’ estimate of around $120M) and then set its sights on bringing down Universal’s Indominus Rex.
It will surpass Jurassic World‘s $208.8M best box office opening ever and where it took JW five days to gross $244M, Force Awakens could get make that in only three. It doesn’t hurt that some theaters are playing Force Awakens 24/7. Although show after show is sold out, Disney keeps stressing that tickets are still available.
And James Cameron’s domestic all-time grosser Avatar — which opened during the same weekend back in 2009 to $77M — took 12 days to get to $244M.
By Sunday, Force Awakens may also end up beating the entire domestic runs of the last two Hobbits which were also released in the December frame: The Desolation of Smaug ($258.4M) in 2013 and The Battle of Five Armies ($255.1M) last year. In fact, earlier today, the previous December opening weekend record of $84.6M posted in 2012 by Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey fell by the wayside in only a few hours.
Advanced ticket sales, which abolished the pre-sale record even before opening day, had already assured Disney of an easy $100M, but 80% of those tickets were bought for Thursday, today and Christmas Day. Today, only 4.8% of kids were out of school. That will increase to 73.8% by Monday so strong mid-week sales are a given.
Tomorrow is a key box office day as it will help determine what the film’s walk-up business will be. Stay tuned as we will be reporting throughout the weekend.