The new Star Wars movie is on course to smash the record for the biggest box office debut weekend in North America, Disney has said.
Ticket sales are estimated to have made $238 million – the previous record was held by Jurassic World, which took $208.8 million in June.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has taken an estimated $517 million globally in three days.
That is just behind Jurassic World, which broke the record with $525 million.
Jurassic World had the advantage of opening in China on the same weekend it opened everywhere else, whereas The Force Awakens will not debut in the world’s second biggest cinema-going territory until January 9.
The Force Awakens also set a new opening night record in the US and Canada.
It made $57 million on Thursday night – beating the previous record of $43.5 million held by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said in a statement: “Our sole focus has been creating a film that delivers that one-of-a-kind Star Wars experience, and director JJ Abrams, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, and the Lucasfilm team have outdone themselves.”
The new Star Wars movie also set a new opening day box office record in the UK and Ireland.
Analysts say the space saga could become the biggest selling movie of all time.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens returns to “a galaxy far, far away” some 30 years on from the action of 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set a new opening night box office record in the US and Canada, industry experts said.
The new Star Wars movie made $57 million on December 17, beating the previous record of $43.5 million held by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.
Analysts say the space saga could become the biggest selling movie of all time.
Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian, one of Hollywood’s best-known box office analysts, said the movie’s opening night performance in the US and Canada “portends a massive and potentially record-breaking opening day and weekend for the film”.
Analysts expect The Force Awakens to make about $200 million in the US and Canada over its opening weekend, a total that could challenge the record Jurassic World set earlier this year.
The latest installment in the dinosaur theme park franchise made almost $209 million in its first three days on North American release in June.
Analysts say The Force Awakens opened on December 17 so would have to perform staggeringly well over the weekend to top the latest James Bond movie.
Directed by JJ Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens returns to “a galaxy far, far away” some 30 years on from the action of 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens sees original trilogy stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reprise their Han Solo and Princess Leia roles alongside younger franchise newcomers.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens final trailer has debuted online and has been met with considerable acclaim.
The seventh Star Wars movie reunites original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. They are joined by newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
The new trailer gives little away to the plot of the movie but the central character appears to be Rey – played by Daisy Ridley who, it’s been speculated, is the daughter of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – both seen in character as Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens picks up three decades after the events of Return of the Jedi, released in 1983.
The new villain of the movie, Kylo Ren – played by Adam Driver – also features in the trailer as he appears to address the misshapen mask of the trilogy’s original antagonist Darth Vader.
A new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens gives fans a first glimpse of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Harrison Ford, who plays space smuggler Han Solo, last appeared in a Star Wars movie more than 30 years ago when Return of the Jedi was released in 1983.
The footage from Episode VII was included in a trailer shown at an official fan convention in California.
The Force Awakens is set for release on December 18 and is the first in a new series of the sci-fi franchise.
The event was also streamed live on the internet.
Harrison Ford, 72, is still recovering after crashing his plane onto a golf course and was unable to attend the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.
Original trilogy actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who also return after three decades as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in The Force Awakens, were on stage to answer fans’ questions.
Mark Hamill paid tribute to the franchise’s supporters.
“Over the years, all my entire life, I’ve felt such love from you,” he told the thousands in the audience.
“You’re more than just fans. You’re family.”
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher were joined by other cast members, including Daisy Ridley and John Boyega.
The relatively unknown Daisy Ridley, speaking for the first time about her role in Star Wars as a scavenger called Rey, described her as “very solitary until she meets another character and an adventure begins”.
She added: “[I] cannot wait to show you guys what we’ve done.”
John Boyega said he was excited but also nervous.
“I was scared to tell my parents that I’d got the part of Finn”, he admitted.
He added he had only told them once the official casting announcement had been made.
Director JJ Abrams was also on the special panel which launched the four-day Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.
Two young actors, Pip Andersen and Crystal Clarke, have been cast in lead roles in Star Wars: Episode VII following open auditions.
British actor Pip Andersen and US-born Crystal Clarke, who is studying in Glasgow, were chosen from 37,000 hopefuls who attended casting calls held in 11 cities across the UK and US.
A further 30,000 others applied online for the parts, which are lead roles.
Little known actors have won parts in past Star Wars films through the traditional casting process.
Pip Andersen and Crystal Clarke, have been cast in lead roles in Star Wars: Episode VII following open auditions
It dates right back to the first Star Wars film in 1977 when the then unknown Mark Hamill secured the starring role as Luke Skywalker.
Mark Hamill went on to appear in the next two Star Wars films and will also feature in the forthcoming Episode VII.
Film producer Kathleen Kennedy said: “The Star Wars universe has always been about discovering and nurturing young talent and in casting Episode VII, we wanted to remain absolutely faithful to this tradition”.
Kathleen Kennedy, who is also president of Lucasfilm, the production company behind the science fiction series, added: “We are delighted that so many travelled to see us at the open casting calls and that we have been able to make Crystal and Pip a part of the film.”
Crystal Clarke is also due to appear in her first feature movie next year, while Pip Andersen is a professional free-runner and recently appeared in a Spider-Man ad for Sony.
Other movies have successfully cast secondary actors and actresses through such open auditions – most notably some of the later Harry Potter films.
The open auditions for a “major Hollywood Movie” were first published at the end of last year on the twitter account @UKopencall, which announced a “nationwide search for lead roles for a Disney movie”.
Meanwhile, principal photography is under way at Pinewood Studios after filming on location in Abu Dhabi was wrapped in May.
The team is to take a two-week break in August due to production delays after actor Harrison Ford, who starred as Han Solo in the original three Star Wars films, injured his leg during filming.
JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled for a Christmas release in 2015.
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will feature in Star Wars: Episode VII, the latest film in the franchise.
Other actors confirmed are Andy Serkis and Max von Sydow, alongside relative newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley.
Star Wars: Episode VII will start shooting at Pinewood Studios, near London, in May.
Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker will also return as C-3PO, Chewbacca and R2-D2 respectively.
Director JJ Abrams said: “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again.
“We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”
A picture of the new cast, with R2-D2 in a wooden crate, was posted on the official Star Wars site on Tuesday.
Star Wars Episode VII cast revealed
The new recruits include:
Max von Sydow
Adam Driver – he has been widely reported to be playing Star Wars‘ main antagonist.
Open auditions for two roles in the new films were held in the UK and Ireland last November.
They were for a “street smart and strong” orphaned girl in her late teens and a “smart capable” man in his late teens or early 20s.
It has not been confirmed whether the new cast came from the auditions, but none of them are complete unknowns and all have previous experience on screen.
No announcement has been made about the specific parts each of the cast members will play.
Episode VII will be the fifth Star Wars movie to be shot in the UK.
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and mark Hamill became household names thanks to their roles in the originals – with Ford as smuggler and rogue Han Solo, Fisher as Princess Leia and Hamill as farmhand-turned-Jedi Luke Skywalker.
Star Wars: Episode VII is due in cinemas on December 18, 2015.
John Williams returns to score Star Wars: Episode VII, it has been announced.
Oscar-winner John Williams, who has composed all six films in the Sci-Fi saga, said he was “happy to be continuing to be part of the whole fun” of the franchise.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed the news at a Star Wars fan event in Germany.
In an interview with StarWars.com, John Williams hinted he would likely use some of the music from previous films.
John Williams returns to score Star Wars: Episode VII
“I haven’t seen the script, so the story is still unknown to me, but I can’t image there will not be some references to the existing stories that would make appropriate use of some of the earlier themes,” he said.
The composer has won five Oscars over his 60-year career for his famous film scores including Jaws, E.T The Extra-Terrestrial and the first Star Wars film.
John Williams has also been nominated for more than 40 other Academy Awards for his work on movies including Superman, the Indiana Jones films, Saving Private Ryan and most recently, Lincoln.
In April, Episode VII director JJ Abrams indicated he wanted John Williams to score his film, but said it was “early days”.
In his latest interview, John Williams praised the director saying he was “perfectly chosen to continue George Lucas’s great odyssey”.
Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to be released in 2015.
Films built around existing characters from the Star Wars universe are being developed alongside the new trilogy of films, the Disney studio has revealed.
“We are working on a few stand-alone films… derived from great Star Wars characters,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told the CNBC channel on Tuesday.
The films, written by Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg, will be released between 2015 and 2021, he continued.
Star Wars: Episode VII, directed by JJ Abrams, is due out in 2015.
Disney bought George Lucas’s Lucasfilm company for $4.05 billion last year, saying it was committed to at least three new films.
The first of these, Star Wars: Episode VII, will be scripted by Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning writer of Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine.
Bob Iger outlined the studio’s plans with CNBC ahead of a call with analysts to discuss the Disney company’s latest financial results.
Films built around existing characters from the Star Wars universe are being developed alongside the new trilogy of films
Despite seeing a slight dip in its quarterly earnings, the CEO said the studio was “confident about the year ahead, as well as our ability to create continued long-term growth”.
While speaking to CNBC, Bob Iger admitted there had been “speculation” about “some stand-alone films” that would not form “part of the overall saga”.
“We still plan to make Star Wars 7, 8 and 9 roughly over a six-year period of time starting in 2015,” he went on.
“But there are going to be a few other films released in that period of time too.”
Lawrence Kasdan has a long association with Lucasfilm, having worked on the scripts of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – the second and third installments of the first Star Wars trilogy.
Simon Kinberg’s own screenwriting credits include comic book sequel X-Men: The Last Stand, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes film.
Tuesday’s announcement was preceded by a report on the Ain’t It Cool News site that the first stand-alone film would focus on the diminutive Jedi master Yoda.
“Word is Yoda is first,” wrote website founder Harry Knowles in a posting that also mentioned such other Star Wars staples as bounty hunter Boba Fett and slug-like gangster Jabba the Hutt.