“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” quadrupled the record for domestic advance-ticket sales and could top the opening-weekend box-office record set in June by “Jurassic World.”
The seventh “Star Wars” film and the franchise’s first in a decade has surpassed $100 million in advance sales in U.S. and Canada theaters, according to trade reports, which say that figure could rise to $120 million. The previous record-holder, 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” had reaped $25 million.
The ticketing service Fandango said Tuesday that “The Force Awakens” generated the highest advance-ticket sales in company history. Another service, MovieTickets.com, said the film doubled the number of advance tickets it sold for this year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and topped “Jurassic World” by 15 percent.
According to trade reports, tracking services predict a $180 million to $220 million North American opening weekend, which could beat the record $208.4 million set by “Jurassic World.”
While the movie’s official domestic opening is Friday, it previews in select theaters Thursday night. Deadline.com said industry analysts predict a $50 million evening, which would break the record $43.5 million of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (2011). The Thursday opening for “Jurassic World” earned $18.5 million.
Bloomberg Business notes that with inflation, the $512 million box office of “Star Wars” (1977) translates to $2.4 billion in today’s dollars, higher than Goldman Sachs’ prediction for the total box office for “The Force Awakens.” The original film achieved this without a major U.S. cinema presence in China or premium-priced 3D and IMAX tickets, Bloomberg said.
The aggregator RottenTomatoes.com reports positive reviews from 152 of 160 film critics as of Wednesday afternoon. Newsday’s Rafer Guzmán said that while the movie “may not have the ineffable magic of the original films . . . it’s good enough to wipe away your memories of those prequels” and that J.J. Abrams directed “with a savvy blend of warm nostalgia, effects-driven spectacle and shrewd commercialism.”
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called it “sharply paced and lively,” with a “well-balanced screenplay.” Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a B+, saying that while it repeated the plot of “Star Wars,” it was nonetheless a “rollicking adventure wrapped in epic mythology, a perfect amount of fan service that fires your geekiest synapses, and a just-right cliffhanger ending. . . . ”