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It’s official: U.S. moviegoers can finally return to a galaxy far, far away. After years of waiting, Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally opened stateside last night, but fans didn’t have to wait until the standard midnight screening to catch it. In this day and age, many movies are now being released on Thursday evening, and even though it hasn’t even been a full day since The Force Awakens was released, it’s already hauling the big bucks and broken a domestic record.
The latest Star Wars installment earned $57 million during the Thursday night previews, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, toppling 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 from from the top spot, which drew $43.5 million. 57% of Star Wars: The Force Awakens' haul last night came from 3D screenings, while IMAX screenings broke their own record by earning $5.7 million across 391 screenings, the previous record holder being $3 million. Internationally the movie has already earned $72.7 million over the last two days, tallying the global earnings to nearly $130 million.
Although these numbers are impressive, keep in mind that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been dominating the ticket game for the last several months. On the same day that the movie’s third trailer was released in October, tickets went on sale online, and there was so much demand that some sites even crashed. In total, the Christmas blockbuster earned $100 million in advanced ticket sales, with 50-60% of that number applying toward this opening weekend. Fandango even reported yesterday that it broke their record for "most tickets sold for any film during its entire theatrical run" entirely through pre-sales, surpassing this summer’s Jurassic World. It’s estimated that the movie will earn between $180-220 million during this weekend, and with it earning positive reviews almost everywhere, that number is going to keep growing in the coming weeks.
As the first live action Star Wars movie since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has, in many ways, been looked at as the flagship of the franchise’s revitalization. It’s the first entry in a new sequel trilogy, and spinoff movies are also on the way. So with the movie earning this much in such a short span of time, it’s a testament to how much love there still is for this universe, and no doubt many hardcore fans will see Star Wars: The Force Awakens multiple times in theaters, providing more of their dollars to the movie’s impressive collection.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now being screened in theaters across the U.S., and if you’ve already seen it, make sure to head to our spoiler-dedicated article to discuss it to your heart’s content in the comments section.