After two years of waiting, Star Wars: The Last Jedi finally hit theaters for Thursday night sneak preview screenings and the results, as expected, were huge. The highly-anticipated Star Wars movie, which already earned widespread critical acclaim, took in a whopping $45 million on Thursday, the second highest Thursday total in box office history. The Thursday tally comes just shy of the all-time, possibly unbreakable record of $57 million, set by 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Disney revealed that the tally was 55% ahead of the Thursday preview for last year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which took in $29 million, but still 21% shy of the all time Thursday record. If it had not been for The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi would in fact have the new record, since it came in just $1.5 million higher than the previous record-holder, 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, whose $43.5 million tally had stood as the benchmark for four years until Star Wars: The Force Awakens came along. We reported earlier this week that Star Wars: The Last Jedi was tracking for a huge global opening weekend of $425 million, which includes a domestic bow of more than $200 million.
While Star Wars fans were certainly expected to come out in droves for The Last Jedi, a vast majority of said fans enjoyed what they saw, according to exit polling. ComScore/Screen Engine has posted an incredible five stars out of five rating, with a 90 overall positive and 92% definite recommend rating. 45% of fans polled revealed the movie came in over their expectations, while 40% stated that they would see the movie again in theaters. Men over the age of 25 years old represented the largest audience demographic at 44%, followed by females over 25 (24%), men under 25 (22%) and females under 25 (10%). It's also worth noting that just 1% of K-12 schools were on holiday break, along with 30% of colleges, but that number will skyrocket to 61% and 89% by next Friday, so The Last Jedi could be in store for a huge second weekend as well. Exit polling also revealed that 55% of last night's preview audience plans on purchasing The Last Jedi on Blu-ray or DVD.
This $45 million tally isn't the official studio estimate as of yet, and there are some sources who believe it may even cross the $50 million plateau, with The Last Jedi domestic opening weekend still on track to earn $200 million, although it may dip as low as $185 million. Even if it does come in closer to that lower tally, it will still be the biggest box office debut of 2017, surpassing the $174.7 million tally put up by Disney's Beauty and the Beast back in March. It will also surely surpass Beauty and the Beast's $504 million domestic and $1.26 billion worldwide, which are both the year's best figures at the moment.
Aside from the normal Thursday night previews, many of which started at 7 PM, there were fan events and Star Wars marathon screenings in roughly 1,300 theaters last night. Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which comes in at 2 hours at 32 minutes long, the longest Star Wars movie in history, opens in 4,175 theaters in North America today. Of those theaters there are 410 IMAX screens, more than 640 premium large format theaters, plus 3,600 3D theaters, and 212 D-Box locations. Deadline broke the news on The Last Jedi's Thursday box office this morning, and there will be much more to report throughout the weekend as Star Wars The Last Jedi begins its sure-to-be-epic box office run.