Box Office: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Opens to Record $238M for Cosmic …
‘Star Wars’ sets N. America opening weekend record with $238M.
It’s a small line of dialogue that, potentially, exists merely to explain away the existence of John Boyega’s role in the movie — but the fact that Star Wars: The Force Awakens explicitly refers to the First Order moving away from using clone troopers is an interesting choice, to put it mildly.Opening day earnings had previously been estimated at $100 million, which would already have been a record, but Walt Disney DIS -3.83% and Rentrak just upped that number. Globally, the latest “Star Wars” space epic raked in an estimated $517 million, falling in second behind “Jurassic World,” which earned $524.9 million worldwide in its first weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Abrams’ movie scores the biggest North American opening of all time in addition to breaking numerous records overseas; ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip’ and ‘Sisters’ escape getting crushed by the Force as overall box-office revenue hits a record high.
Abrams has opened up about the tough little droid’s story arch, and what follows are spoilers from the film – so maybe save this until after you’ve seen it. Watching General Hux choose to use a collection of Stormtroopers he trained from childhood — in many cases, stealing the children from their families and, it’s suggested, brainwashing them — instead of an army of clones is a momentary distraction. The trio of heroes who appeared in the first of the blockbusters in 1977 — smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the rebel alliance, and her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) — are all back and played by the actors that “Star Wars” first made famous.
At the end of the film, R2 suddenly wakes up, and the reason is somewhat mysterious – which has led some fans to wonder what finally roused the droid from his vegetative state. The current record holder for an opening weekend is this past summer’s Jurrasic World with $208.8 million. “It’s definitely, no question, a new all-time weekend record,” Paul Dergarabedian, a box office analyst for Rentrak, told USA Today. “It’s just a matter of how big this weekend number will get. At a post-screening Q&A for the movie on Saturday, Abrams and co-writers Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt explained why they sidelined R2 – and why he finally had his own “awakening.” “The whole movie is a series of character introductions,” says Arndt, who help craft the story before Kasdan and Abrams penned the script. “You want all your character introductions to be A-plus. A lot of that will depend on how the movie does on Saturday.” This news comes as no surprise: Fortune earlier reported that by mid-day FridayThe Force Awakens had already sold more tickets than any other movie of 2015. Force Awakens doesn’t debut in the world’s second-largest moviegoing market until Jan. 9. “Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience, and director J.J.
With Greedo, George Lucas famously re-edited a scene so that the villain of the piece made the initial aggressive move so as to give the hero something to react against, in order to preserve his honor. Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and the Lucasfilm team have outdone themselves,” Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement.
They’re running to get a ship, it blows up, and you turn and there’s the back-up – the Millennium Falcon.” If an iconic starship gets a scene-stealing moment, then certainly R2-D2 deserved one, too. By establishing that Stormtroopers are factory-created drones, they become little more than robots, making the high kill-rate of our heroes somewhat less objectionable.
But the writers grappled with a way to make his re-emergence special. “I had originally written R2 and C-3PO showing up together, and Larry very intelligently said, ‘You want to keep them separate from each other. The movie’s stunning performance sets a new standard for how much the North American box office can expand when the right movie comes along, and puts even more pressure on Hollywood studios to eventize their tentpoles. You don’t get it at all!’” Arndt joked, drawing laughs from the audience – as well as the screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi sitting beside him. But, for argument’s sake, let’s assume most people view “Episode IV: A New Hope” as not just the best “Star Wars” film, but also one of the greatest movies of all-time.
Then Arndt says he got it: R2-D2’s arrival had to be presented as a kind of delayed gratification, building up the audience’s expectation before the droid rolls out and starts beep-blooping. Now, thanks to what is really just a minor change to an earlier softening of Star Wars’ own mythology, that’s slowly becoming as true in a galaxy far, far away as it is in reality. Abrams’ movie, buoyed by nostalgia, glowing reviews and an A CinemaScore, obliterated the previous December record set by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which debuted to $84.6 million in 2012.
This was back in 2012.” The trouble was a simple case of upstaging. “It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over,” Arndt said. “Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. At this rate, there’s no telling how high Force Awakens will ultimately fly in terms of box-office revenue, since films over the year-end holidays can see huge multiples.
Some of the early MacGuffins of the movie – the thing that drives a movie’s plot – were a search for Darth Vader’s remains, or a quest to the underwater wreckage of the second Death Star to recover a key piece of history about sacred Jedi sites in the galaxy. Overseas, Force Awakens also made history in a raft of key markets, including the biggest opening weekend in the U.K. ($48.9 million), Germany ($27.3 million), Australia ($18.9 million) and Russia ($12.3 million) And it was the second biggest in a handful of countries, including France ($22.7 million). When they find R2 beneath that dust cloth, the heroes already have a piece of a holographic map, but they lack the larger section of this uncharted region of space that will allow them to track down Luke. The story group’s thinking went back to the 1977 original movie, when R2-D2 accessed the Empire’s mainframe as the heroes searched for the captured Princess Leia. “We had the idea about R2 plugging into the information base of the Death Star, and that’s how he was able to get the full map and find where the Jedi temples are,” Arndt said.
Caucasians made up 62 percent of ticket buyers, followed by Hispanics (15 percent), African-Americans (10 percent), Asians (7 percent) and Native American and other (7 percent), according to PostTrak. The film also stars Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong’o and Domhnall Gleeson along with original trilogy stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. However, Road Chip has a shot at earning close to $100 million all in domestically, since it’s the only new family offering heading into Christmas stretch. Just as Alvin 4 has the advantage of being a family play, Sisters has the advantage of appealing to females, who made up a striking 76 percent of the opening-weekend audience. New offerings at the specialty box office included Sony Pictures Classics’ Oscar player Son of Saul, Laszlo Nemees’ harrowing holocaust drama that won the Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Adam McKay’s The Big Short, another awards player, continued to see good results in its second weekend, grossing $350,000 from eight theaters for a location average of $43,750 and cume of $1.3 million for Paramount Pictures.
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