“Star Wars The Force Awakens” is on the verge of sending the foreign and worldwide box office records set by the dinosaurs of “Jurassic World” last summer into extinction.
The J.J. Abrams-directed space epic has taken in $129 million from abroad since it began rolling out Wednesday, distributor Disney reported Saturday.
That puts it within striking distance of the international opening weekend record of $316.1 million and the record for a worldwide — that is foreign and domestic grosses combined — opening weekend of $524.9 million within range. “The Force Awakens” brought in a record $120 million-plus in its first day at the North American box office, so its worldwide or global total is roughly $250 million.
It posted the biggest opening day ever in both the U.K., and Germany, the top two foreign markets, where it brought in $24.7 million and $12.7 million respectively. France was next with $11.1 million, followed by Australia with $10.4 million.
“The Force Awakens” opened this weekend in virtually every major market except China, where it will debut on January 9, and Greece and India, where it will roll out next Thursday. The decision to delay the opening was made by the Chinese government, which reviews and dates every foreign film with an eye toward protecting its homegrown film industry.
The world’s second-largest movie market with roughly 30,000 screens — the U.S. has roughly 40,000 — delivered nearly $100 million of the $315 million international haul that “Jurassic World” managed in its opening weekend abroad this summer. That’s a significant disadvantage for “Star Wars” to overcome, and while no one’s ruling it out, that makes it far more difficult.
Success there is no given, because the Chinese are not huge “Star Wars” fans. They have seen only the last three releases in the series, prequels that didn’t resonate at the box office: 1999’s “The Phantom Menace ($5 million), 2002’s “Attack of the Clones” ($7.2 million) and 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith” ($11.7 million).
One of the best things Disney has going for it with “The Force Awakens” is IMAX, whose giant screens have proven very popular in China, to the extent that it successfully took IMAX China public earlier this year. This weekend, there will be 668 IMAX theaters screening the J.J. Abrams‘-directed epic worldwide, 276 of which are overseas — 18 percent more than “Jurassic World” had. That number will surge to a record 940 when the 272 IMAX screens in China are added in January.