Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on pace for a record-breaking opening weekend after blowing past the preview night mark set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with an estimated $57 million.
Because Thursday screenings, known in the industry as “previews,” are included in the Friday box office figures, the new film about a galaxy far, far away is on track to break the single-day opening record also set by 2011’s Harry Potter finale. Deathly Hallows Part 2 took in $91 million on its first day, which includes the $43.5 million previews that began at midnight. By contrast, The Force Awakens’ previews began at 7:00 pm, offering many more showings.
The new Star Wars film has already broken some other records as well. The $57 million it has brought in just based on those Thursday evening previews beats the Thursday box office record set by the previous film in the series (production-wise if not chronologically), 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith with $50 million.
Thursday evening’s Star Wars showings have also outdone The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for the biggest single day box office in December, and will almost certainly break its December opening weekend record ($84.62 million) sometime on Friday.
That should help put The Force Awakens on track to set an opening weekend record. Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World set that mark this past June with a $208.8 million bow, slightly besting the mark set by another Disney film, The Avengers.
One factor that could work against the new chapter of the 38-year-old Star Wars saga, in terms of box office, is that this is also the final shopping weekend before Christmas. That could mean a big drop-off in ticket sales between Friday and Saturday.
But theaters have been adding round-the-clock showtimes to meet demand for the film, with one industry insider telling Deadline that “it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen.” Audiences and critics have also had almost overwhelmingly positive responses for the J.J. Abrams-directed feature.