‘Star Wars’ awakens to $247 million box office opening, biggest ever

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NEW YORK -- "Star Wars" now rules the box office galaxy.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" became the biggest opening in movie history over the weekend, bringing in an estimated $247 million in North America, according to Disney.

The film flew past the opening weekend record held by Universal's "Jurassic World," which made $208.8 million on the weekend it opened in June.

The film has made $528 million around the world since opening overseas on Wednesday. That's a new record, too: "Jurassic World" made $525 million globally when it opened.

The international totals are all the more impressive because "The Force Awakens" has yet to open in China, the world's second biggest film market. It will open there on January 9.

"The Force Awakens" now holds the box office records for biggest Thursday night opening, biggest one day gross, biggest December debut, and biggest opening weekend of all time.

The Disney film opened in 4,134 theaters. It is the seventh in the "Star Wars" saga, and the first film starring beloved characters like Harrison Ford's Han Solo and Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia since 1983's "Return of the Jedi."

Fans of the franchise also came out in record numbers over the weekend to be introduced to new characters like Daisy Ridley's scavenger Rey, Adam Driver's villainous Kylo Ren, and John Boyega's stormtrooper turned good Finn.

"For 'Star Wars' fans and Hollywood, this weekend was like the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Kentucky Derby all rolled into one perfectly realized movie event," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. "It's also a great weekend to be a theater owner with an incredible number of satisfied patrons enjoying the majesty of the big screen communal experience."

Roughly 58% of the "Force Awakens" audience was male while 63% of the audience was over the age of 25, according to data shared by the studio.

The newest tale from a galaxy far, far away was a critical as well as a financial hit.

"The Force Awakens" garnered a solid "A" CinemaScore and a near perfect 95% score on RottenTomatoes.com.

But this may just be the beginning of the film's box office empire with movie choices in January and February pretty depleted at the cineplex.

"With incredible reviews and an excited hardcore fan base that will want to go back over and over again, 'Force Awakens' will have long-term playability well into 2016 where it should earn the lion's share of its potentially record breaking worldwide revenue," Dergarabedian said.

Thanks to the massive debut of "The Force Awakens" the overall box office for all movies this weekend also broke a record, bringing in over $300 million for the first time in history.