"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" brought in a galactic $238 million over the weekend, making it the biggest North American debut of all time, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Walt Disney Co. earnings destroy the previous opening record set by Universal's "Jurassic World," which drew $208.8 million this summer.
This is just the latest in a laundry list of records set by J.J. Abrams' film, the seventh in the franchise, which had analysts anticipating a debut anywhere from $150 million to $300 million.
The "X-factor" was quality. While "The Force Awakens" drew enormous advance sales, the film was kept under lockdown from the press and critics until mere days before it was released to the public. Reviews turned out to be stellar (95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), as did early audience reaction, who gave the film an A CinemaScore.
Rentrak's senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said that's the key element that may push the film to the $2 billion mark by the end of its run. Many are already going back for a second helping.
"The enthusiasm has really turned into a cultural event," said Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president of theatrical distribution. "It's unbelievable."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday:
1. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," $238 million.
2. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip," $14.4 million.
3. "Sisters," $13.4 million.
4. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," $5.7 million.
5. "Creed," $5.1 million.
6. "The Good Dinosaur," $4.2 million.
7. "Krampus," $3.8 million.
8. "In the Heart of the Sea," $3.5 million.
9. "Dilwale," $1.9 million.
10. "Bajirao Mastani," $1.7 million.