'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Targets Record Breaking $100M+ Opening Day
by Brad Brevet
December 18, 2015
UPDATE #2: As of 5:43 PM PST, Disney is now projecting a $120+ million Friday opening (including Thursday previews) for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and an early estimate of $215+ million for the weekend.
UPDATE #1: Disney is reporting as of 2 PM PST that Force Awakens matinees are pointing to a total first day take of $100+ million. That "first day" total includes the $57 million from Thursday night preview screenings, which in and of itself also includes Star Wars marathon ticket sales. As noted below, this would break the largest Friday, opening day and single day records currently held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at $91 million. No estimates quite yet on the weekend outside of the appearance the film will top $200 million. The earlier report follows...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is firing on all cylinders, bringing in an estimated $57 million from Thursday evening "previews", breaking the previous record of $43.5 million set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 back in 2011. Additionally, the film's international rollout, which began on Wednesday in 12 markets, continued yesterday with an additional 32 markets and it has now crossed $72.7 million in its first two days internationally, with a global cume that now stands at $130 million. Star Wars adds Japan and Spain today along with its first full day in 4,134 North American theaters (a December record) as the sky is the limit on just how high this one will go.
Interestingly enough, $57 million is enough to break the all-time Thursday single day record of $50 million, which was set by Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Of course, as is standard operating procedure, Disney will be rolling these Thursday numbers into their overall Friday gross, which will almost certainly break the largest Friday, opening day and single day record currently held by Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at $91 million. As a matter of fact, once it crosses $84.62 million on Friday it will have already broken the December opening weekend record previously set by The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey. Add to that, it has already obliterated the largest December single day, also previously owned by The Hobbit, a paltry $37.13 million by comparison.
3D accounted for 47% of the evening's take along with $5.7 million from IMAX screenings, breaking the previous IMAX record of $3 million set by Avengers: Age of Ultron earlier this year.
For those curious, these Thursday preview numbers do include the Star Wars marathon screenings, which included back-to-back-to-back-etc. screenings of the first six Star Wars films leading up to the release of Force Awakens. Prices were upwards of $59.99 at AMC theaters per USA Today. Additionally, there is no set time as to when theaters specifically report Thursday preview numbers. Some may report grosses only up to midnight on Thursday, while others may report well into the Friday AM. All of which leads to one big question...
Should these numbers count for Friday's gross?
The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 record was set based on midnight screenings in 3,800 theaters while Force Awakens began showing on a large percentage of its opening weekend theaters at 7 PM on Thursday, making the two records virtually impossible to compare.
That being said, including these Thursday evening grosses into the Friday total is standard operating procedure, but it does mean a comparison to Potter's number isn't apples-to-apples. A more apt comparison would be to the blowing away of the $18.5 million and $27.6 million Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron brought in from their Thursday previews respectively earlier this year. Jurassic World went on to bring in $81.9 million on its opening day, eventually leading to an opening weekend record of $208.8 million, while Avengers 2 grossed $84.4 million on Friday and an opening weekend that ended just shy of $200 million.
Our weekend prediction for Force Awakens of $231 million now looks like it may be in jeopardy of being too low. Though everything depends on that Saturday drop. With this $57 million accounting for Friday's total the Saturday drop will be large and perhaps even more than the 33% drop Age of Ultron experienced and almost certainly larger than Jurassic World's 15% Saturday drop. That does depend, once again, on when Disney cut off their Thursday preview estimate? If they cut it off at midnight then that $57 million looks even more impressive and the Saturday drop could be even lower.
As we speculated yesterday, should Force Awakens open with $100 million on Friday (including Thursday previews) and then drop similarly to Age of Ultron it would be looking at a $226.5 million opening. The film's opening, however, looks as if it could go as high as $120 million and if that ends up being the case attempting to predict where it will end up becomes futile, though a final three-day total north of $250 million would seem almost a certainty. At that point it may even challenge the largest weekend of all time (top 12 gross) of $266 million all on its own.
As for that international performance, the film now accounts for the largest single day of all time in UK/Ireland ($14.4m), Germany ($7.1m), Norway ($1.1m) and Sweden ($1.7m). Along with those four territories, it also accounts for the largest opening day in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland (French-speaking), Austria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Croatia, Iceland, Serbia, Chile and Peru.
We'll have Friday estimates for you tomorrow morning, and you can read our prediction piece from yesterday right here and get an idea of just how many records the Force is looking to break.
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