LOS ANGELES — Driven by record presale numbers, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is widely expected to smash opening-weekend records when it premieres in the U.S. Thursday. And while there are no sure things in the film industry, similar predictions in foreign markets are already starting to prove true.
The new "Star Wars" film set December opening-day records in France, with $5.2 million in box office receipts, and Italy, with $2 million, according to data reported by Variety. It was the biggest single day and opening day ever — regardless of month — for Sweden and Norway, where it reeled in $1.7 million and $1.1 million, respectively. The movie also broke first-day records in Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, where they apparently keep separate records.
"Jurassic World," which came out this summer, currently owns the opening weekend box office records for both the domestic market -- $208.8 million -- and international -- $316.1 million. But those could be very much in play, especially given the early returns from overseas.
"Star Wars" opens Thursday in 32 additional markets including Germany, the U.K., Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. By the end of the week, it will be playing everywhere except India, Greece and China. The Chinese audience will be the last to see the movie — it doesn't open there until Jan. 9 — but the Walt Disney Company, which owns Lucasfilm, is pulling out all the stops to make sure the world's soon-to-be largest box office catches the same "Star Wars" fever as the rest of the world.