LOS ANGELES – To say that the force is strong with this one isn’t nearly enough.
Studio estimates on Sunday say “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” brought in a galactic $238 million over the weekend, making it the biggest North American debut of all time.
The Walt Disney Co. earnings destroy the previous opening record set by “Jurassic World,” which drew $208.8 million this summer.
A few other movies tried to compete against J.J. Abrams’ seventh chapter in George Lucas’ space saga.
Almost a galaxy away, the animated “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip” came in second with $14.4 million
In third place, the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler comedy “Sisters” earned an estimated $13.42 million in its opening weekend. A whopping 79 percent of audiences were female for the R-rated comedy.
Even before anyone in the public saw the movie, the latest chapter of “Star Wars” was smashing records. Advance ticket sales reached well over $100 million, and it became the first movie to ever sell $100 million of tickets in a single day.
Buzz about the film has been building for over a year, and now, between the hype and critics’ positive reviews, it’s no surprise it’s bringing record numbers at the gate.
“Star Wars” premiered Monday in Hollywood, California, during a star-studded red carpet event, and the film begins trickling into theaters Thursday night prior to Friday’s full-force North American release.
The seventh film marks the first “Star Wars” release in a decade and the first to be made without creator George Lucas. The movie stars previous stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, along with newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong’o, Adam Driver and Oscar Isaac.
“When we started casting the movie, it felt incredibly important to me that the movie look like the world in which this movie is being released,” Abrams told “60 Minutes.”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will help to cap off a relatively big year at the box office, which included the now vanquished blockbuster “Jurassic World,” leading to an unusual amount of major box office successes for Hollywood.
“Considering how strong the slate was, how strong the slate is going forward — and how important the international box office has been and continues to be, the movie sector is incredibly robust,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, an entertainment research company.