LOS ANGELES — The hype surrounding the new "Star Wars" movie is already paying off. On Friday, the Walt Disney Co., parent company of Lucasfilm, said "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" had brought in $57 million in Thursday evening previews, shattering the previous record of $43.5 million earned by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" in July 2011, CNN reported.
Granted, that final tally was helped by plenty of theaters premiering the movie at 7 p.m. and adding middle-of-the-night showings to keep up with demand — and the "Harry Potter" Thursday previews began only at midnight — but the movie has already made $130 million worldwide. And the record $208.8 million reeled in by "Jurassic World" during its U.S. opening weekend in June is in play, as analysts have projected "Star Wars" to bring in as much as $220 million domestically through Sunday. But given early returns, even that might be conservative.
"The Force Awakens" opened in 4,134 theaters across the United States — the most ever for a December premiere. And it also set an opening-night IMAX record, bringing in $5.7 million from 391 screens.
While the first-night performance exceeded many expectations, early foreign response to the movie could have been a signal. "The Force Awakens" set December opening-day records in France and Italy, and single-day records — regardless of season — in Norway and Sweden.