'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Shatters Opening Day Record

by Brad Brevet

December 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already put its stamp on the record books, kicking off its domestic release with an estimated $120.5 million Friday opening. That opening number includes a record-breaking $57 million from Thursday night "previews" and makes this the first film to gross more than $100 million in a "single" day, but the records don't stop there.

The $120.5 million opening day for Star Wars marks the largest Friday, opening day and single day records previously held by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at $91 million. In just its opening day, the film has also broken the previous December opening weekend and single day records, both of which were held by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit's previous December opening weekend record was $84.62 million and the single day record was a paltry $37.13 million, which puts into context just how big this opening really is. Now the question comes down to the film's legs to determine just how high it will go. The overall opening weekend record of $208.8 million, set by Jurassic World earlier this year, will obviously be broken, but by how much?

Industry estimates currently range anywhere from $225-240 million for the weekend. As for comparisons, the best examples might seem to be recent ones such as the opening weekends of Jurassic World ($208.8M) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($191.2M) from earlier this year. The two films dropped 15% and 33% respectively on Saturday and another 17.8% and 10.9% on Sunday, which, if you translate that to this Star Wars opening day would give us a range anywhere from $273-307 million. However, given the massive front-loading of that Friday number, perhaps Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is the best place to look.

Deathly Hallows - Part 2 dropped 53.4% on its second day and another 15.8% on Sunday. Using those numbers, Force Awakens would take in another $56.1 million on Saturday and $47.28 million on Sunday for an opening weekend around $223.9 million. Given the excitement surrounding the film it would seem reasonable to expect a slightly stronger hold on Sunday and an opening somewhere closer to $230-235 million.

As for the records the film has broken so far, here's an idea:

* The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 record included midnight only screenings while Force Awakens screenings began at 7 PM on Thursday and included Star Wars marathon ticket sales, tickets that were sold for as much as $59.99 each.

Records still up for grabs this weekend include (but are not limited to):

** Holiday is defined as the first Friday in November through New Year's week or weekend.

The largest Saturday and Sunday records will be interesting to watch. If Force Awakens manages to match those two numbers it will amount to an opening weekend around $251.8 million, which is clearly well within the realm of possibility at this point.

As for the international total, it currently stands at $129 million, giving the film a global cume of $250 million so far. The UK leads all international markets with $24.7 million, followed by Germany ($12.7m) and France ($11.1m).

Word of mouth definitely looks to be strong as the film scored an "A" CinemaScore, which included an "A+" grade among women, and "A+" scores with younger audiences, both under 18 and under 25. 98% of audiences gave the film an "A" or "B". As of last night, Disney reported exhibitors were still adding screens to meet demand.

In other weekend news, the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy Sisters is faring quite well opposite the Star Wars juggernaut, bringing in an estimated $4.9 million on Friday, leading to a possible weekend in the mid-teens. The film has enjoyed largely positive reviews and received a "B" CinemaScore from opening day audiences.

The weekend's other new wide release is Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, which brought in an estimated $4.1 million on Friday and is looking at an opening somewhere around $13-14 million. It will mark the worst opening yet for the franchise, and a significant drop compared to the previous film's $23.2 million opening in 2011.

And finally, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 crossed $250 million yesterday with an estimated $1.55 million.

You can get all the Friday estimates right here with full weekend estimates coming tomorrow morning and weekend actuals posted on Monday afternoon.

Discuss this story with fellow Box Office Mojo fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @boxofficemojo and author Brad Brevet at @bradbrevet.

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