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Star Wars: The Force Awakens saw its North American cume rise to $391.1 million on Christmas Eve, passing the $380.3 million earned in 2005 by Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of Sith.
That means J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster has now earned more domestically than both Episode III and Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones ($310.7 million) in less than a week in release, not accounting for inflation. And it’s already surpassed the entire global gross of Attack of the Clones in 2002 ($649.4 million). Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace grossed $430 million domestically in 1999 and $1 billion worldwide.
Moviegoing always dips on Christmas Eve day, and this year was no exception. Force Awakens saw its lowest midweek gross, or $27.6 million. Still, it topped Avatar‘s Christmas Eve 2009 record of $11.2 million. Overseas, the Disney and Lucasfilm tentpole took in $20 million on Thursday for a worldwide total of $813.5 million, the No. 3 film of the year.
Abrams’ critically acclaimed movie, 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 stayed at No. 2, grossing $2 million on Wednesday from 3,653 locations for a domestic total of $26.7 million.
Adam McKay’s awards contender The Big Short, starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo, earned an estimated $1.7 million from 1,577 theaters million for a total of $5.8 million. The financial dramedy, from Paramount and New Regency, expanded nationwide on Wednesday.
The holiday marquee will get even more crowded as four other movies open nationwide today; Concussion, Joy, Point Break and Daddy’s Home, which earned $1.2 million during Christmas Eve previews. The $50 million broad comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg will likely place No. 2 with $20 million to $25 million from 3,271 theaters for the weekend. Moviegoing generally surges on the afternoon of Christmas Day.
At the specialty box office, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight commences its exclusive 70mm film run in 100 theaters on Christmas Day, while Alejandro G. Inarritu’s The Revenant opens in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
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