[LONDON] Star Wars: The Force Awakens broke records in China with US$53 million in ticket sales on its first weekend, propelling the movie to become the third highest-grossing film globally in history, Walt Disney Co said on Sunday.
The China figures represent the highest Saturday or Sunday movie opening in the country in industry history, the Disney film studio said in a statement.
Internationally, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the science fiction franchise created by George Lucas, brought its worldwide haul to US$1.73 billion, Disney said. It has now shot past Jurassic World's US$1.67 billion global gross to become the third biggest movie ever.
China will help decide if Star Wars: The Force Awakens tops Avatar as the highest-grossing film in Hollywood history. Avatar took in US$2.8 billion after its December 2009 debut.
The Star Wars film saga that began in 1977 had not been a cultural phenomenon in China like it was in other countries. The original movies weren't shown in Chinese theatres until last June. Disney launched a marketing blitz to build buzz, featuring 500 Stormtroopers on the Great Wall and promotions with a pop star dubbed China's answer to Justin Bieber.