‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Crosses $1 Billion Sales

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Iger: 'Star Wars' Could Get Even Bigger

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” surged past $1 billion in worldwide sales in 12 days, becoming the first picture to reach that mark so quickly.

The Walt Disney Co. film, featuring a new cast of young actors with returning stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, took in $153.5 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters in its second weekend, Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in a statement. The movie held off four new releases to keep the top spot at the box office.

The soaring receipts have surprised even Disney executives and underscore the opportunities from the company’s 2012 purchase of “Star Wars” owner Lucasfilm. Every division of the company is getting in on the action, from film and consumer products to theme parks and TV.

“We are rewriting the record books every day,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak. “Repeat viewings are having a snowball effect.”

He called the speed at which the movie crossed the $1 billion mark “staggering,” considering it won’t open in China until next month.

Prior to “The Force Awakens,” the fastest a movie reached $1 billion was the 13 days it took Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World” to hit that mark this past June.

The new “Star Wars” picture had already topped “Jurassic World” for largest-ever opening weekend. The film made its official debut in U.S. theaters on Dec. 18 and in some international markets on Dec. 16. BoxOffice.com was predicting $163 million for the weekend for “The Force Awakens.”

Christmas Record

The movie also set a record for Christmas Day sales, generating $49.3 million, Rentrak said.

“It’s bigger than big,” Bob Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Dec. 21. “It’s bigger than we thought it would be.”

“The Forces Awakens” is set 30 years after the defeat of the evil Galactic Empire in 1983’s “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.”

With the New Order looking to cement its control, it falls to Finn, a renegade Stormtrooper played by John Boyega, and Rey, a staff-wielding scavenger portrayed by Daisy Ridley, to save the Resistance. They embark on a quest to find the lost Jedi knight Luke Skywalker, portrayed once again by Mark Hamill.

The return of stars such as Ford and Fisher from the original “Star Wars” films along with younger actors in prominent roles has been cited by critics as a reason for the new film’s appeal across a range of moviegoers.

Also Showing

Among the new releases over the weekend, the one that did the best was “Daddy’s Home” from Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, which opened with sales of $38.8 million to place second.

The comedy features Will Ferrell as a kind-hearted radio executive who must contend with his wife’s ex-husband, played by Mark Wahlberg.

BoxOffice.com was predicting sales of $18 million for the picture, which got only 26 percent positive reviews at Rottentomatoes.com, a site that aggregates critics’ notices.

“Joy,” the new Jennifer Lawrence film from 20th Century Fox, opened with weekend sales of $17.5 million to place third. The movie, co-starring Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, features Lawrence as the inventor of the Miracle Mop, coping with complicated family and business affairs.

The picture fared better than average with critics, registering a Rottentomatoes score of 58 percent. BoxOffice.com was predicting weekend sales of $17 million.

‘Concussion’

“Concussion,” from Sony Pictures, opened with sales of $11 million to place sixth, missing the BoxOffice.com estimate of $12.5 million.

The film stars Will Smith as the doctor who publicizes the link between professional football and severe brain injuries. Produced by Ridley Scott, the picture had a 61 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes.

“Point Break,” Warner Bros.’ remake of a crime thriller film, was the fourth new release. The picture opened with sales of $10.2 million, compared with a forecast of $9.5 million from BoxOffice.com.

In the new version, Luke Bracey plays an FBI agent trying to catch a crime ring of extreme sports athletes. Edgar Ramirez and Ray Winstone co-star. The film was expected to produce weekend sales of $9.5 million, according to BoxOffice.com.

Opening in limited release this weekend was Quentin Tarantino’s new picture, “The Hateful Eight,” about strangers who seek refuge in a stagecoach stop during a blizzard. The film, featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell in an ensemble cast, took in $4.5 million in 100 locations.

“The whole industry is doing well,” Rentrak’s Dergarabedian said. “We’re in amazing box-office territory right now.”

Weekend sales for the top 10 films rose 56 percent to $278 million from a year earlier, Rentrak said. Sales for the year to date have increased 7.1 percent to $10.9 billion.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales from Dec. 25 and Dec. 26, with estimates for Dec.

27.

                   Rev.    Pct.             Avg./    Total
Movie             (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater    (mln)  Wks
===============================================================
1 Star Wars        153.5    -38    4,134   37,136    544.6    2
2 Daddy’s Home      38.8     --    3,271   11,862     38.8    1
3 Joy               17.5     --    2,896    6,043     17.5    1
4 Sisters           13.9      0    2,962    4,685     37.1    2
5 Alvin And The     12.7    -11    3,705    3,428     39.4    2
6 Concussion        11.0     --    2,841    3,872     11.0    1
7 Big Short, The    10.5  2,681    1,585    6,637     16.0    3
8 Point Break       10.2     --    2,910    3,512     10.2    1
9 Hunger Games       5.3     -7    1,813    2,923    264.6    6
10 Hateful Eight     4.5     --      100   45,366      4.5    1

Top 10 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $278.0 $178.5 55.7

Year-to-date Revenue

2015 2014 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $10,895 $10,175 7.1 Source: Rentrak Corp.
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