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article imageEyeing global domination, 'Star Wars' opens big in China

By AFP     Jan 9, 2016 in Entertainment

It has conquered North America, thrilled Europe and on Saturday "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" opened in China, chasing more records with an estimated $33 million in ticket sales, Disney said in early projections.

The studio cautioned that it would not have full weekend estimates until Sunday, but underlining the growing clout of the Chinese market -- the world's second-largest in film -- Disney said it "wanted to provide early indications of the China opening."

"We can only estimate the gross as there is no official reporting yet," Disney said.

"But current indications point towards an opening-day gross of around $33 million.

"That would be the highest Disney opening day ever in China, as well as the highest Saturday opening day in industry history."

The seventh installment in the "Star Wars" franchise, directed by J.J. Abrams, has been toppling records ever since hitting the big screen.

Disney said it surpassed James Cameron's Oscar-winning "Avatar," which held a record of $760.5 million, to become the top-grossing film of all time in North America on Wednesday.

But the prize Disney is really after is biggest global film.

That crown is currently held by "Avatar" with $2.79 billion in ticket sales.

Experts say the space saga's global aspirations depend in part on the release in the huge Chinese market, which could help give it a further push to light speed.

Disney, which purchased Lucasfilm from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas for $4 billion in 2012, is planning two more films in the series as well as a stand-alone spinoff.

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