NEW YORK, Dec 27, (RTRS): The Force remains strong with the new “Star Wars” movie, which is on track to top $1 billion in global ticket sales this weekend, making it the fastest-ever film to reach that level.
Walt Disney Co said in a statement on Saturday that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” had generated box office receipts of $890.3 million globally through Dec 25 and would pass $1 billion this weekend.
The movie, the seventh installment in the newly rebooted Star Wars franchise, opened in some international markets on Dec 16 before rolling out in North America the following day.
It is set to hit the $1 billion mark no later than Sunday, its 12th day in theaters, according to industry research firm Rentrak.
The current record holder for being the fastest to gross $1 billion is Comcast Corp -owned Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World,” which took 13 days after its release earlier this year, Rentrak said.
The new “Star Wars” movie had already topped “Jurassic World” for the biggest opening weekend ever with $529 million globally.
Disney said “Star Wars” has rung up $440.4 million in US and Canada ticket sales and $449.9 million internationally, and it is set to open in China, the world’s No. 2 movie market, on Jan 9. China is crucial if Disney’s first foray into the world of Jedi knights is to earn a spot among the top-grossing films of all time.
On Friday, “The Force Awakens” set a US and Canadian record for largest box office on Christmas day with $49.3 million, Disney said. That topped the previous record of $24.6 million set by “Sherlock Holmes” in 2009.
Like a long distance runner training for a 10K or a mountain climber steeling themselves to conquer a towering peak, Jim Braden prepared for a grueling endurance test that would challenge himself physically and mentally.
His mission: tap into the Force to prove to the world that he was, indeed, the ultimate “Star Wars” fan. Instead of a sheer rock face or an uphill course, the gauntlet he had to pass through was outfitted with over-sized chairs and cup holders. But it was no less a trial.
“I wanted to demonstrate my passion,” Braden told Variety. “I grew up with ‘Star Wars.’ As a kid, the simple morality just appealed to me. Everybody likes a white hat hero they can get behind.”
Braden, a 40-year-old content strategist at Dell, was one of seven contestants who had signed up for the Alamo Drafthouse’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” marathon. With the promise of seven years of free movies, a boatload of collector’s items, and the chance to be mythologized along the lines of a certain ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, being dangled tantalizingly before them, Braden and the contingent of George Lucas disciples agreed to sit through all six previous “Star Wars” films and an endless loop of “The Force Awakens.”
“We had a nifty trophy with the words ‘ultimate champion’ on it,” said John Smith, creative manager at the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse that held the contest. “It’s odd. We had prizes that were worth tens of thousands of dollars, but at the end of the day, they just wanted that title.”
When the lights finally went up and the last contestant had tapped out, Braden had spent a total of 46 hours watching “Star Wars.” He had set through nine straight showings of “The Force Awakens.”
“We put ourselves through hell mentally and physically,” said Braden. “Watching it became almost a hallucinatory experience… one other guy complained of having chest pains and dropped out.”
His body may have been taxed, but not his enthusiasm for the return of the Skywalker clan. In fact, Braden plans to see “The Force Awakens” with his parents when they come to visit him for the holidays.
“I came out of it saying that I still enjoyed the movie,” said Braden. “That’s how you know it’s good.”
Michael Roberts, a friend of Braden’s since their days working together at an ad agency, said that he wasn’t surprised about the outcome. Braden’s super fandom had spilled over to his work place, with “Star Wars” paraphernalia adorning his desk.
At home, his office is adorned with a life-sized replica of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, along with Darth Vader and Storm Trooper masks and Millennium Falcon and R2-D2 models.
“He’s not just a fan,” said Roberts. “He’s a legitimate fanatic.”