‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Rockets to Record $57 Million in Thursday Previews

Stratospheric debut crushes “Harry Potter” mark and is on pace to soar past “Jurassic World” this weekend

The final tally is in, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” launched with an out-of-this-world $57 million during preview screenings on Thursday night.

The box office figure shatters the record set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in 2011 and leaves little doubt that Disney’s reboot of the iconic sci-fi tale will be on a box office run for the ages this weekend.

“The Force Awakens” topped the existing previews record by nearly $14 million. That puts it on course to become the first movie ever to make $100 million in a single day on Friday when it opens in 4,134 theaters. It’s also on track to blow past the opening weekend record of $208 million set by “Jurassic World” in June.

“Harry Potter” made $43.5 million on Thursday night and with that added in, totaled $91 million on Friday, winding up at $169 million for the weekend. “Jurassic World” stomped to $18.5 million on Thursday night and $81.9 million Friday, $69.6 million on Saturday and $57.2 million on Sunday to set the record.

“The Force Awakens” will be light years ahead of those marks at its current pace, and there’s little doubt now that the space adventure directed by J.J. Abrams is going to live up to its unprecedented advance sales, social media buzz and hype and the rich legacy of George Lucas‘ beloved franchise.

In weeks leading up to the film’s release, “The Force Awakens” also beat several other records. Previously, the movie had already outsold previous single-day record-holder “Hunger Games” by an 8-to-1 margin at Fandango, and a 10-to-1 margin at MovieTickets.com. No film had over $1 million in advance IMAX sales, but “The Force Awakens” had $6.5 million — one month later, advances sales totaled $50 million — another record.

The film also beat the record for most views of a trailer in 24 hours, and is looking to be the fastest film to reach $1 billion globally — “Jurassic World” took 13 days to do it earlier this year.

3D amounted to about 47 percent of the night’s grosses, and IMAX made $5.7 million from 391 screens, which almost doubled the previous record of $3 million, held by “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

The seventh installment in the “Star Wars” series stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher from the original trilogy as well as Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson.

Lucasfilm and Bad Robot’s “The Force Awakens” is set approximately 30 years after the events of 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

The first “Star Wars” film grossed $461 million dollars domestically in 1977. However, the highest grossing installment was “Episode 1: Phantom Menace,” which made $474.5 million in 1999.

And before “The Force Awakens,” “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” was the best-reviewed installment in the series, with a 94 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Currently, “The Force Awakens” stands at 95 percent.

Universal’s “Sisters,” also opened Friday. Starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, it grossed $769,000 at late night shows in 2,220 theaters.

The film follows two sisters who plan one last hurrah in their family home before their parents sell it, and naturally everything that can go wrong, does. The $30 million film also stars Maya Rudolph, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, James Brolin and Dianne West. It currently holds a score of 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip” is opening this Friday as well. The fourth film in the franchise, the live-action comedy stars Kaley Cuoco, Bella Thorne, Anna Faris, Christina Applegate, Justin Long and Tony Hale.

With a $90 million budget, the film enjoys a 14 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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