December 21, 2015 / 8:54 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' opens to record $248 mln in North America

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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES, Dec 21 (Reuters) - “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opened with a record-breaking $248 million at the U.S. and Canadian box office, and $529 million globally over its opening weekend, Walt Disney Co said on Monday.

The film, the seventh installment in a newly rebooted “Star Wars” franchise, garnered the biggest opening weekend both domestically and internationally, and pushed Disney’s 2015 box office gross past the $5 billion mark.

“The Force Awakens” opened in some international markets on Dec. 16 before rolling out in North America from the night of Dec. 17. It has set box office records for biggest opening in countries including the United Kingdom, Australia and Russia.

IMAX Corp said Monday that the film accounted for $48 million in ticket sales worldwide.

The film smashed through the previous biggest global box office opening record, $524 million set by Comcast Corp-owned Universal Pictures’ “Jurassic World” earlier this year.

Disney’s slate of hit films this year has included Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man,” Pixar animation “Inside Out” and live action fairytale “Cinderella.”

Fans of ‘Star Wars’ have dominated social media over the weekend, with more than 64 million people engaging in 140 million interactions about the franchise on Facebook, the company said on Monday.

Twitter Inc added that “The Force Awakens” became the most tweeted-about movie of the year, garnering 4.9 million tweets over the weekend.

The studio purchased the “Star Wars” franchise from George Lucas’ Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion, and has planned for a new trilogy of films as well as standalone installments through 2019.

The franchise will also be incorporated at U.S. Disney theme parks, bringing to life the droids, spaceships and otherworldly creatures of the universe Lucas created in 1977 and set in a galaxy far, far away. (Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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