'Star Wars' movie's global sales reach massive $350m

LOS ANGELES - "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" collected a galactic US$250 million (S$353 million) of global ticket sales through Friday and headed toward a historic opening weekend in the United States and Canada as fans around the world reveled in the return of the beloved space saga.

The seventh "Star Wars" movie is expected to sell more than US$220 million of tickets at U.S. and Canadian theaters through Sunday, beating the record US$208.8 million for "Jurassic World"in June, Walt Disney Co said on Saturday.

Fans embraced the new installment in the series: A clash between good and evil in a galaxy far, far away. Thousands gathered for a friendly light saber battle in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, and moviegoers in cities such as Berlin and Paris arrived at screenings wearing Stormtrooper costumes, Jedi robes and Darth Vader masks. "Force Awakens" has already smashed several film industry records and won praise from critics and moviegoers. It pulled in US$120.5 million through Friday, its first full day in domestic theaters, the highest single-day ticket sales ever.

That includes a chart-topping US$57 million from fans who flocked to see the first showings on Thursday night. Saturday domestic receipts were expected to total $60 million, Disney said. "Force Awakens" began rolling out in global markets on Wednesday.

Through Friday, international ticket sales had reached US$129.5 million, as the movie set opening-day records in Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil and other countries.

The new "Star Wars" film is the first installment in a decade of the series, which was created by George Lucas in 1977. Disney bought "Star Wars" producer Lucasfilm for US$4 billion in 2012 and spent more than US$200 million to produce "Force Awakens." The movie is now open in all markets except Greece and India, where it starts playing Dec. 24, and China, which has set a Jan. 9 debut. China is the world's second-largest film market.

"Force Awakens" has a shot at becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time, according to some analysts. The current record holder is "Avatar," which generated US$2.8 billion worldwide after its December 2009 release.

Critics applauded "Force Awakens," which features newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac alongside original stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

The movie, directed by J.J. Abrams, scored a 95 percent positive rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Audiences awarded an "A" rating in polling by survey firm CinemaScore, Disney said.