‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Could Gross $265 Million as Sequel Breaks Opening Weekend Record

J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster may take in as much as $140 million on Friday alone, including Thursday night grosses

Star Wars The Force Awakens

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is on track to gross between $250 million and $265 million over the course of its three-day opening weekend, veteran box office observers tell TheWrap.

That would set the all-time opening weekend record, besting the $208.8 million haul of “Jurassic World” earlier this year.

“The Force Awakens” opens against Universal’s Tina FeyAmy Poehler comedy “Sisters” and 20th Century Fox’s “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip,” both of which are expected to gross $14 million to $17 million this weekend.

“Star Wars” has already set an industry record with a $100 million-plus Friday — the first triple-digit-million day in box office history. Insiders tell TheWrap that the tally could reach as high as $140 million by the time Friday night becomes Saturday morning.

This tops the previous $91.1 million record held by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” in July 2011. “The Force Awakens” is also on track to blow past the opening weekend record of $208.8 million set by “Jurassic World” in June.

Because “The Force Awakens” is entering uncharted box office territory, typical moviegoing patterns make it difficult to forecast where the film’s opening weekend tally may wind up. After all, there were long lines for “Star Wars” at 5:15 a.m. outside of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Despite many sold-out shows, there are still plenty of seats available for “Star Wars,” as many theaters throughout the country are staying open 24 hours a day in order to screen the movie around the clock.

“There are literally millions of tickets available for this weekend, and exhibitors have a lot of flexibility in terms of capacity and increasing the number of shows based on demand,” said Dave Hollis, EVP of distribution at Disney.

“With the increased demand for ‘Star Wars,’ we will continue to add showtimes to accommodate the avid fans that have been eagerly awaiting the seventh film in this blockbuster series,” said Amy Miles, CEO of Regal Entertainment Group.

“Star Wars” crossed the $100 million threshold on the strength of its Thursday night previews, which grossed an incredible $57 million — $13.5 million more than the “Harry Potter” finale. For additional context, the opening weekend record holder “Jurassic World” grossed only $18.5 million from Thursday previews. “The Force Awakens,” which opens in 4,134 theaters, is expected to break more box office records throughout the month.

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.”

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

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.