Box Office: 'Rogue One' Blasts Off With $29 Million Thursday

Rogue One Still 4 - Publicity - H 2016
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

The 'Star Wars' spin-off earns the top preview tally of the year, and seventh biggest of all time.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney and Lucasfilm's first stand-alone Star Wars film, earned $29 million in Thursday night previews as the space war film kicks off its domestic debut. It's the best preview tally of the year, ahead of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($27.7M) and Captain America: Civil War ($25.0M).

The preview total includes $3.7 million earned in North America last night from 401 IMAX screens.

The film is widely expected to score the second-best December debut of all time behind last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with a domestic opening of $135 million to $150 million, according to predictions.

One year ago, The Force Awakens earned $57 million in previews, setting a new box-office record. The film went on to earn $247.9 million in its domestic debut. Rogue One's preview tally is the seventh biggest of all time, behind The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which earned $30 million in 2010.

Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards, is set before the events in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. It follows a group of rebels, let by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), as they try to obtain the schematics to the deadly Death Star.

The film, also starring Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Donnie Yen, is opening around the world, and is tracking to earn $300 million to $350 million worldwide, according to bullish box-office observers. It has opened in 47 territories so far, and earned $33 million from the 60 percent of the marketplace open through Thursday. Rogue One posted the highest opening day of 2016 in Australia, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Scandinavia and Switzerland.

Braving an opening opposite a Star Wars film is New Line's drama Collateral Beauty, starring Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris.

The film is tracking to earn in the low-teen millions. Smith stars as a successful New York advertising executive struck by tragedy who writes letters to love, time and death — and gets a response.