'Force Awakens' on path for record $200M-plus weekend

As excited fans gathered at theaters around the country last night, investors and film analysts watched ticket sales to see whether The Force Awakens would beat box office expectations.

Studio estimates on Sunday say "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" brought in a galactic $238 million over the weekend, making it the biggest North American debut of all time.

Yes, that's a record, topping Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at $91.1 million set on its opening Friday in July 2011. "The Force Awakens" was heading toward a Thursday night-Friday total of more than $120 million domestically, said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney. J.J. Abrams' seventh chapter in George Lucas' saga has earned an A CinemaScore from moviegoers who have flooded theaters nationwide.

The opening weekend record is now held by "Jurassic World", which premiered earlier this year to $208.8 million at the box office. The date marked the biggest box office single day of all time in United Kingdom/Ireland, Germany, Norway and Sweden. It's a type of release never before seen in December, where the previous top opening was 2012's "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with $84.6 million.

Imax and 3-D screenings are helping to propel the record gross.

But in the past year, "Star Wars" has basically taken over the world in anticipation of the release of "The Force Awakens". Sequels and spinoffs are already in development for years to come, not to mention an entire corner of Disneyland devoted to the franchise.

But "The Force Awakens" is riding a wave of hype, nostalgia and positive reviews from critics and fans alike.

"The potential for "The Force Awakens" to ultimately break into the $2 billion club worldwide is certainly in the realm of possibility", Dergarabedian said.

But so far, "The Force Awakens" is attracting the interest of seemingly everyone.

President Barack Obama began his year-end press conference Friday by letting reporters know their meeting wouldn't be the most important event taking place Friday.

The trio of heroes who appeared in the first of the blockbusters in 1977-smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the rebel alliance, and her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)-are all back and played by the actors that Star Wars first made famous.

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