"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has already surpassed $100 million in North America, and $250 million globally, setting it up for a record-setting weekend.
The Walt Disney Co. on Saturday said the film made an estimated $120.5 million from Thursday night previews and opening day Friday. That smashes the previous opening day record of $91.1 million, set by "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2."
Disney is projecting a domestic weekend total of around $220 million, which would surpass the record $208.8 million of "Jurassic World."
Since beginning its overseas rollout Wednesday, "The Force Awakens" has made an estimated $129.5 million internationally.
"Jurassic World" also holds the global weekend opening record with $524.9 million, a number J.J. Abrams' seventh chapter in the "Star Wars" saga could well exceed.
But does that mean the movie is destined to be the cinematic moneymaker of all time?
Though several signs point in that direction, the outcome isn't guaranteed.
The movie is on track to have the biggest December opening ever, topping "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," which took in $85 million in the U.S. and Canada on its opening weekend in December 2012, reports AP's Ryan Nakashima.
Ticket seller Fandango says advance ticket sales for "Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens" has already topped every other movie and Imax says it has sold double the previous record. Imax receipts account for a third of pre-release sales for this movie.
Whether it bests the biggest grosser of all time – "Avatar," with $2.8 billion worldwide – depends on word of mouth and whether fans love it enough to watch it multiple times through the new year.
What's the Star Wars draw?
The resumption of George Lucas’s space opera offers a shared cultural experience that transcends generations, gender, race, and politics. These days, that’s rarer than water on Tatooine. The popularity of “The Force Awakens”– ticket pre-sales are $100 million in the US alone – arises from a desire to revisit some old friends (and meet some new ones) in a galaxy far, far away. But a core appeal of “Star Wars” may lie in its universal themes and inclusiveness.
“There a lot of entry points into the series,” observes Alyssa Rosenberg, an obsessive “Star Wars” fan who blogs about pop culture for The Washington Post. “If you’re a teenager, Luke Skywalker may be your point of identification. If you’re a bit older and you feel jaded, then maybe Han Solo is the person who hooks you into the storytelling. If you’re optimistic, or idealistic, then maybe Princess Leia is the way into the series. One of the things that ‘The Force Awakens’ does really well is that it broadens those opportunities and entry points. It’s important to remember that it’s a movie where the three leads are a man of Hispanic descent, a black man, and a woman.”