"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" breaking box-office records is getting to be as predictable as a Dark Side weapon having a design flaw.
"The Force Awakens" drew $49.3 million at the box office on Friday, per the Hollywood Reporter, which was good for double the previous all-time Christmas Day record, set by 2009's "Sherlock Holmes. The day brought J.J. Abrams's revival of the Lucasfilm franchise to $440 million in the United States, and $890.3 million worldwide. According to Deadline, the haul pushes Disney's domestic gross to a company-record $2 billion. The film is expected to hit $1 billion internationally this weekend.
In a crowded field of new releases, the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg team-up "Daddy's Home" is reported to have drawn over $14 million on the day, for second place, with David O. Russell's "Joy" placed third, making $7 million, per Variety. "Concussion," the NFL-head-trauma medical drama starring Will Smith, "The Big Short," the real estate-crisis farce adapted from the book by "Moneyball" and "The Blind Side" author Michael Lewis, and the "Point Break" remake all made over $4 million.
In limited release, Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" took in over $1 million Christmas Day, while the latest film from 2015 Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "The Revenant," brought in $143,000, with per-theater performances of both considered to be strong.
While others vied for silver and bronze, the gold standard of blockbusters made itself known. Disney's $2 billion year comes as direct result of its pair of $4 billion creative investments in Marvel and Lucasfilm, which look to bear out over $1 billion of the company's domestic returns on the year, with $639.2 million and $440.3 million, respectively, per Box Office Mojo and reports. With "The Good Dinosaur" and "Inside Out," the company's Pixar arm is responsible for $459 million of the storytelling and licensing studio behemoth's record returns, though Disney's 2015 still lags behind Universal's $2.4 billion year, for now.
"Star Wars" returns to theaters next December when a Rebel fleet steals the plans for the Empire's original Death Star in "Rogue One," and then again in 2017, when Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and the original cast return in the as-yet-unnamed sequel to be directed by Rian Johnson.
With "Episode VIII" to commence shooting soon, and "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow already attached to "Episode IX," Abrams has expressed regret that he will not be at the helm for the next stories, although he will continue to be involved as a producer as the "Star Wars" movies look to become an annual event.
The record-setting droves at the multiplex suggest that Abrams, known for his ability to market and re-tool franchises while tantalizing fans with questions destined to leave them begging for more, ably piloted "Star Wars" fans back to their beloved Long Time Ago, Far, Far Away Galaxy . . .