While you’re no doubt aware that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been rocketing up the box office charts over the past couple of weekends (though it’s in danger of being unseated by The Revenant), it’s actually in the midst of its first weekend in one key territory: China. Disney released J.J. Abrams’ sequel in the lucrative market this weekend, and while final numbers have yet to come in, early estimates are looking incredibly strong for the film’s Chinese performance.
The film is currently on track for an opening day gross of $33 million, which would be Disney’s highest opening day ever in China, and the highest Saturday opening in the country’s history. Obviously that number could fluctuate up or down between now and tomorrow, but it currently looks as though the Force is strong in China.
The film, obviously, has major crossover international appeal given its spectacular effects and franchise branding, but it’s exciting to have a blockbuster so diverse—both in terms of gender and race—reaching audiences across the globe. All too often it’s the white swimsuit models or hardened action heroes fronting the next Transformers movie that blow up the international box office, so kudos to Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy for striving to make something that more closely resembles the world that we actually live in.
China has become a major market for Hollywood over the past few years, so Disney has to be happy with these numbers. Will the territory be enough to vault The Force Awakens past Avatar’s $2.78 billion worldwide record? Abrams’ film is currently the fourth highest grossing movie of all time worldwide, with a $1.6 billion total, but another billion dollars and change is no small feat. Will it crack the record, or will James Cameron stand tall as Star Wars: The Force Awakens settles for just the U.S. record? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter—the movie is insanely popular regardless and has solidified its place in film history—but the Chinese opening certainly bodes well for continued success in the weeks and months to come.