J.J. Abrams’ tentpole finished Wednesday with $363.5 million domestically after earning $38.1 million from 4,134 theaters for the day, one of the best showings of all time (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse holds the record for the biggest Wednesday after posting an opening-day gross of $68.5 million in June 2010).
Overseas, Force Awakens earned another $38.4 million for a foreign tally of $400.4 million and global haul of $765.9 million. At this pace, the movie will cross the $1 billion mark sometime over Christmas weekend, or in 12 days or less. The current record-holder is Jurassic World (13 days), which had the benefit of opening day-and-date in China. Force Awakens doesn’t open there until Jan. 9.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens already ranks No. 3 on the list of top-grossing films in North America behind Jurassic World ($652.3 million) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($459 million). On Wednesday, it overtook Minions ($336 million), Furious 7 ($353 million) and Inside Out ($356.5 million)
Abrams’ critically acclaimed reboot, set 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, features a strong female heroine in Rey, a young scavenger played by newcomer Daisy Ridley. Rey and a renegade stormtrooper (John Boyega) band together to challenge a rising evil that includes a new planet-killing laser cannon.
The film also stars Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson, along with original trilogy stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.
There’s no telling how high Force Awakens will ultimately fly in terms of box-office revenue, since films over the year-end holidays can see huge multiples. James Cameron’s Avatar opened to $77 million on the same weekend in 2009 on its way to becoming the top-grossing film of all time with $2.79 billion in global ticket sales, including $760.5 million domestically. And on the weekend before Christmas in 1996, Cameron’s Titanic took in a mere $28.6 million on its way to grossing $2.19 billion worldwide.
Elsewhere in North America, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, like Star Wars, continued to see a boost from kids being out of school for Christmas. The Fox movie stayed at No. 2, grossing $3.4 million from 3,653 locations for a six-day domestic total of $24.7 million.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s female-skewing Sisters looks to have held at No. 3 with an estimated $2.5 million from 2,962 theaters for a six day total of $21.8 million for Universal.
Adam McKay’s awards contender The Big Short, starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo, wasn’t far behind as it expanded into a total of 1,585 theaters, earning an estimated $2.3 million. The financial dramedy, from Paramount and New Regency, has made a strong showing in its limited run for a domestic total of roughly $3.8 million through Wednesday.
At the specialty box office, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight commences its exclusive 70mm film run in 100 theaters, while Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant opens in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.