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Opening weekend proves the power of the force

Dec 19,2017
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will happily settle for second.

Rian Johnson’s second installment in the third “Star Wars” trilogy rocketed to a debut of $220 million at the North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. That gives “The Last Jedi” the second-best opening ever, slotting in behind only its predecessor, “The Force Awakens.”

The Disney blockbuster became just the fourth film to open above $200 million domestically. Aside from “The Force Awakens” ($248.8 million), the others are “The Avengers” ($207.4 million) and “Jurassic World” ($208.8 million). Accounting for inflation, the debut of 2012’s “The Avengers” would roughly tie with “The Last Jedi.”

“The Last Jedi” is off to a similar start overseas, too, with $230 million in international ticket sales, said Disney. That brings its three-day global haul to $450 million.

The opening also gave the Walt Disney Co. the opportunity to flex its muscles on the heels of the deal announced Thursday for it to purchase 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. As part of the deal, Disney will take control of 20th Century Fox, one of Hollywood’s six major studios.

“The weekend that we’re in is a byproduct of the foresight and vision from our CEO Bob Iger to bring Lucasfilm into the fold,” said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis, alluding to Disney’s 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm. “So as we think about the possibility of other things being added, you can’t help but be excited about the possibilities.”

Fox, as it happens, was the only studio to open another new wide-release film against “The Last Jedi.” Its family film, “Ferdinand,” was essentially stampeded by “The Last Jedi,” grossing $13.3 million. “Ferdinand” will look for more room in the coming weeks, once the “Star Wars” tsunami has waned.

AP