Star Wars film breaks opening day box office record
Cinemagoers in the UK and Ireland spent almost £10m to watch the new Star Wars film on its first day of release – a new opening day box office record.
The £9.64m tally beat the previous best of £9.48m, set by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.
Midnight screenings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Thursday morning accounted for £2.4m of ticket sales.
Some chains have increased their prices for the film. Odeon, for example, has imposed a ticket surcharge of up to £2.
The same tactic, coupled with the decision to open the film on a Monday, enabled Spectre to set the record for the biggest opening ever at the UK and Ireland box office.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened on Thursday so would have to perform staggeringly well over the weekend to top the latest James Bond’s film’s £41.3m debut, which was calculated over seven days as it opened on a Monday.
According to industry journal Screen International, though, such an outcome “remains a distinct possibility” given the film’s current box office performance.
Skyfall, the previous James Bond film, is currently the highest-grossing film at the UK and Ireland box office, having made almost £103m domestically.
Two million tickets were booked in advance of the Force Awakens release, setting a new record for advanced ticket bookings in the UK and Ireland.
The new Star Wars film had its first screenings in the US and Canada on Thursday evening, sales from which are estimated to have made up to $55m (£37m).
Box office analysts expect it to make around $200m (£134m) over its opening weekend, a total that could challenge the record Jurassic World set earlier this year.
The latest instalment in the dinosaur theme park franchise made almost $209m (£140m) in its first three days on North American release in June.
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.
The film sees original trilogy stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher reprise their Han Solo and Princess Leia roles alongside younger franchise newcomers.