Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi delivered an early Christmas present for Hollywood and theater owners with a near-record $220 million debut in North America, the second-best showing of all time behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi opened a mere 11 percent behind The Force Awakens‘ record-shattering domestic launch of $247.9 million on the same weekend in 2015, a rare feat in the age of sequels. Revenue for the weekend spiked more than 30 percent over the same weekend last year, helping to narrow the yearly gap from 4 percent to 3 percent.
Internationally, director Rian Johnson’s tentpole took in $230 million from 54 markets for a worldwide launch of $450 million. The Last Jedi came in 18 percent behind Force Awakens overseas, where sci-fi can be a tough sell. The big question mark is China, where Last Jedi doesn’t open until Jan. 5. IMAX theaters turned in $40.6 million globally.
Buoyed by glowing reviews and an A CinemaScore, The Last Jedi is one of only three films to open to $200 million or more domestically after The Force Awakens, Universal’s Jurassic World ($208.8 million) and fellow Disney title The Avengers ($207.4 million), not accounting for inflation. And the Star Wars series is now the first film franchise in history to see two installments clear $200 million in another win for the Disney production empire and marketing team.
The Last Jedi — otherwise known as Episode VIII — reunites many of the new Star Wars actors introduced in The Force Awakens, including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong’o, along with original stars Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher, to whom the movie is dedicated. Franchise newcomers include Kelly Maria Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro.
The story picks up immediately after the events of The Force Awakens, with Rey (Ridley) seeking out Luke (Hamill) to help the Resistance (led by Fisher’s Leia) and its fight against the villainous Kylo Ren (Driver) and The First Order.
The movie came in well ahead of last year’s stand-alone film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($155.1 million). Globally, Force Awakens and Rogue One went on to to earn $2.1 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively.
The Last Jedi blasted off just as Disney announced its $52.4 billion bid to buy major 21st Century Fox assets, including the film studio, home of George Lucas’ first six Star Wars movies prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney.
In a twist of fate, the only film daring to open opposite the event film was Fox’s Ferdinand, from Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios.
Ferdinand placed No. 2 with $13.3 million from 3,261 theaters, the lowest debut of any Fox Animation/Blue Sky title. At the same time, Fox believes the movie will enjoy a strong multiple over the holidays thanks to younger tots and their parents looking for something to do. In 2015, Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip opened opposite The Force Awakens to $14.3 million on its way to collecting a total $85.9 million domestically.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Ferdinand is loosely based on the classic children’s book about a peace-loving Spanish bull who would rather whittle away the hours smelling flowers and daydreaming than taking to the ring to fight. The voice cast includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Petyon Manning and Gina Rodriguez.
Among specialty titles and award contenders, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water saw a major boost after collecting seven top Golden Globe nominations, the most of any film. From Fox Searchlight, Shape of Water grossed $1.7 million as it expanded into a total of 158 locations for a screen average of $11,000 and cume of $3.6 million.
This article originally appeared in THR.