The Wall Street Journal: New ‘Star Wars’ blasts box-office records
The force is truly with Walt Disney Co.
The media giant’s DIS, -3.83% $ 4 billion bet that it could revive the “Star Wars” franchise for a new generation paid off this weekend as its first movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” opened to an estimated $ 238 million in the U.S. and Canada. It easily blasted the prior record for an opening weekend of $ 209 million set by “Jurassic World” in June.
Overseas, “The Force Awakens” opened to $ 279 million as it played in every major market except China, India and Greece. That is the third highest international debut of all time and positions the film to ultimately collect well over $ 1 billion globally by the time its box-office run is done, particularly with so many people off work around the holidays. That should make the $ 200-million-plus production very profitable for the company.
More important, with audiences in the U.S. and most foreign countries embracing the movie, Disney is setting up “Star Wars” to be a success in many media for years to come, including annual big-screen sequels and spinoffs, merchandise, television shows and theme-park attractions. Its ability to profitably exploit “Star Wars” across all its divisions was the justification for Disney’s $ 4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm LLC in 2012.
“The Force Awakens” grossed $ 57 million domestically on Thursday night, when shows started at 7 p.m., destroying the prior record of $ 43.5 million set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2.” Many hard-core fans wanted to see the first new “Star Wars” movie in a decade, and the first featuring original stars such as Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in 32 years, as soon as possible.
An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.