9:37pm PT by Pamela McClintock, Ashley Lee
Weekend Box Office: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Delivers Massive $104.8M Friday
Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi is headed for a massive $215 million-plus North American launch after delivering $104.8 million on Friday
So far, Last Jedi is trailing only one film — Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which nabbed $119 million on its first Friday for a record domestic launch of $247.9 million on the same weekend in 2015. No other film besides these two have ever crossed $100 million in a single day.
And Force Awakens, bestowed with an A CinemaScore by audiences, is one of only three films to open to $200 million or more domestically. The others are Universal's Jurassic World ($208.8 million) and fellow Disney title The Avengers ($207.4 million). Some box-office observers believe Last Jedi has a shot at matching those two.
Last Jedi earned $45 million in Thursday-night previews, likewise the second best showing in history behind Force Awakens ($57 million), not accounting for inflation. Last Jedi's Imax previews generated an estimated $5.3 million.
Globally, the franchise's eighth installment is projected to gross $425 million-plus through Sunday to secure one of the five best worldwide openings of all time, not accounting for inflation.
Last Jedi is pacing well ahead of last year's stand-alone film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which opened to $155.1 million domestically. Globally, Force Awakens and Rogue One went on to to earn $2.1 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively.
Last Jedi began its international rollout on Wednesday in 14 material markets, followed by an additional 34 material markets on Thursday. It opened at the top of each international market (except Turkey and Korea), bringing its two-day international total to an estimated $60.8 million and its global total to $105.8 million.
The Force returns to theaters just as Disney announced its $52.4 billion bid to buy major 21st Century Fox assets, including the film studio, home of George Lucas' first six Star Wars movies prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney.
Directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi reunites The Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Gwendoline Christie, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong'o, along with original trilogy stars Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, to whom the movie is dedicated. Franchise newcomers include Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro. The story picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey (Ridley) seeking out Luke (Hamill) to help the Resistance and its fight against the villainous Kylo Ren (Driver) and the First Order.
The only film daring to open opposite The Last Jedi is Ferdinand, an animated family offering from Fox and Blue Sky Studios that hopes to win over younger tots and their parents throughout the holidays. The movie earned $3.6 million on Friday from 3,621 theaters for a forgettable domestic debut in the $12 million-$13 million range.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Ferdinand is loosely based on the classic children's book about a peace-loving Spanish bull who would rather while away the hours smelling flowers and daydreaming than taking to the ring to fight. The voice cast includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Peyton Manning and Gina Rodriguez. Ferdinand nabbed Golden Globes nominations for best animated feature and animated score.
Dec. 15, 12 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.