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Update: Box office hits and misses: Star Wars shatters US and global box-office records

Star Wars The Force Awakens
Disney
Update 12-22-2015: Final reports on both domestic and worldwide ticket sales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens now indicate that the film has indeed broken the global opening-weekend record with $529 million worldwide, surpassing the previous record of $525 million set by Jurassic World. The Force Awakens also earned slightly more in U.S. theaters than early reports suggested, with the final tally for the film confirmed to be $248 million domestically — the new all-time record for opening weekends in U.S. theaters.

Jurassic World producer Frank Marshall congratulated J.J. Abrams and the Star Wars team on the film’s success via Twitter:

Cheers to J.J., Kathy, the cast and crew, and DIS/LFL marketing teams! #TheForceAwakens @Disney @StarWars @Bad_Robot pic.twitter.com/oa0zwuAb2Q

— Frank Marshall (@LeDoctor) December 21, 2015

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens still set to open in several territories (including China) and in possession of nearly every possible opening weekend record, the question now becomes whether it can beat the all-time box office records set by 2009’s Avatar, which earned $760.5 million domestically and $2.8 billion worldwide.

At this point, it should come as no surprise that Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens reigned supreme at the box office over the weekend, but exactly how many records it broke on its way to the top is still pretty amazing.

The seventh installment of the Star Wars saga broke nearly every domestic box-office record possible on its way to a massive $238 million opening weekend, and now sits atop the charts as one of the most successful films of all time in U.S. theaters. Not bad for a scruffy nerf-herder and a bunch of Rebel scum, eh?

With its $238 million opening weekend, The Force Awakens passed previous domestic record-holder Jurassic World ($208.8 million) to have the most successful debut of all time in U.S. theaters, but fell just shy of the worldwide record for opening weekends. (Editor’s note: See update above for final box-office numbers, which push Star Wars past Jurassic World globally and domestically.) The film earned a grand total of $517 million globally despite not opening in one key market — China — for another three weeks, and fell short of the $525 million that Jurassic World earned worldwide during its opening weekend (which included its debut in China).

While The Force Awakens missed setting the worldwide record, it did manage to set opening weekend records in nearly every country it opened in, including Germany, the U.K., Australia, and Russia, among others. It also set numerous U.S. records over the weekend, including records for the highest single-day gross ($120.5 million), the highest per-theater average for an opening weekend ($57,568 per theater), and the highest opening weekend of all time for IMAX theaters ($48 million).

# Title Weekend U.S. Total Worldwide Total
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens $248M (Updated) $248M (Updated) $529M (Updated)
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip $14.4M $14.4M $14.4M
3. Sisters $13.4M $13.4M $15.2M
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 $5.6M $254.4M $595.5M
5. Creed $5.1M $87.9M $95.5M
6. The Good Dinosaur $4.2M $96.5M $189.6M
7. Krampus $3.8M $34.8M $47.6M
8. In the Heart of the Sea $3.5M $18.6M $68.2M
9. Dilwale $1.9M $1.9M $1.9M
10. Bajirao Mastani $1.7M $1.7M $1.7M

You might never know it from the headlines, but The Force Awakens wasn’t the only movie to open over the weekend. The animated feature Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and the “R”-rated comedy Sisters both debuted over the weekend, and managed to earn $14.4 million and $13.4 million, respectively, in the shadow of the Star Wars sequel. Also finding their way into the weekend’s top ten films were the Bollywood movies Dilwale ($1.9 million) and Bajirao Mastani ($1.7 million), which managed to come in ninth and tenth in the weekend rankings.

The success of The Force Awakens was apparently the only force capable of knocking the finale of The Hunger Games out of the top spot at the box office, and while Mockingjay — Part 2 is still the lowest-grossing installment of the series so far, its $595.5 million is still no small tally for the film.

Next week features a long list of high-profile films making their debut in theaters, including Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s Daddy’s Home, the remake of Point Break, Jennifer Lawrence’s drama Joy, and Will Smith’s NFL drama Concussion. Oscar-friendly films The Big Short and The Danish Girl will also expand into a significantly greater number of theaters after running in limited release the last few weeks, along with Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant, which will be shown in a few more theaters around the nation, too.

Even with all of the new releases, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which The Force Awakens doesn’t win the weekend — and quite a few more weekends, for that matter — in its campaign to become the highest-grossing movie of all time. Given the way things have started, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Star Wars sequel sitting atop the all-time box office rankings by the time the summer movie season kicks off.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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