With the premiere, eyes turns to predicting the box office results. The movie is enjoying the widest December release in history with 4,100 screens in the United States alone, surpassing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey's 4,045 screens. Current estimates have around $100 million in pre-release sales (a record) with first weekend estimates in the US being around $180 to $220 million but some going as high as $300 million. Except for China, all the major markets are getting the movie this week so I suspect the worldwide total for its first weekend will be in the $550 million range.
Speaking of China, it seems that Disney considers that a critical part of its success and attempting to get as much attention as possible for the movie there. The first trilogy (the 1980s one) never got a theatrical release there while the 2000s one did poorly. Part of the attempt to build excitement is to allow streaming of the six films, putting 500 Stormtroopers on the Great Wall, and hiring Chinese pop star Lu Han (think their Justin Bieber) as an "official ambassador" for the film. Basically Star Wars doesn't have the generational base and popularity it enjoys elsewhere but Chinese's entertainment interests align closer to other Western countries then people care to admit (for whatever reason). End result I suspect if the movie is good, it will be a success there. Time will tell as the film will not be released in the country until January 9.
This weekend 60 Minutes aired an interview with JJ Abrams that included a look as John Williams orchestrated the opening of the movie (after the crawl).
Last but not least, if you are a fan that prefers the old school version of the Star Wars Trilogy without all the changes then check out the video below and then head to this link to get an HD version of a fan restoration of the film in HD to its 1976 and 80s versions. To read more about Harmy, click here about the motivations behind the despecialization of the movie. More info on how to download here.