The seventh installment of the immensely popular "Star Wars" movie franchise opened to record collections in China, the world’s second largest film market. According to initial estimates released by Disney Saturday, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" crossed an estimated $33 million in sales in its first day to score the biggest opening of all time in China, and an all-time high for Disney.
Chinese box-office tracking service Ent Group showed gross receipts of $29.31 million for the movie, from just under 78,900 screenings Saturday. In comparison, "Jurassic World" opened on a Wednesday in June last year with ticket sales of $17.24 million in China.
The latest film from the series, created by George Lucas, is already the top-grossing movie of all time in the U.S. and Canada, and has set ticket sales records around the world. As global sales of the movie reached $1.6 billion Thursday, China could help decide if it can top “Avatar” as the highest-grossing Hollywood film worldwide.
“Avatar” earned $2.8 billion in global sales after its release in December 2009, beating "Titanic," which now stands at second spot with $2.19 billion.
Disney launched a marketing blitz starting back in June for the "Star Wars" sequel in China where the franchise does not enjoy the same cult status it does in North America and Europe. To build a buzz, Disney did a slew of promotions, starting from screening all six movies at the Shanghai International Film Festival last year to marching 500 storm troopers [characters from the francise] on the Great Wall of China for the first trailer debut.