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'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' opens huge with $45 million on Thursday

The latest movie in the 'Star Wars' franchise opens with a huge $45 million on Thursday.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is already doing stellar business.

The Lucasfilm movie grossed $45 million from Thursday night screenings in its domestic opening, making it the second-biggest box-office preview ever, according to studio estimates.

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No surprise, the record holder remains 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the predecessor to “The Last Jedi.” The prior film opened with $57 million in ticket sales from its Thursday night preview.

So “The Last Jedi” didn’t beat “The Force Awakens,” and no one thought it would. It trails by 21%.

However, the new film did 55% better than last year’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” ($29 million), the first of a series of planned spinoffs from the franchise.

Released by the Walt Disney Co., “The Last Jedi” is expected to take in more than $425 million in global receipts this weekend, according to analysts. That figure is projected to include $200 million from the United States and Canada alone.

Internationally, “The Last Jedi” has collected $60.8 million from 48 countries including Britain, Germany and Brazil. It’s set to hit theaters in China, the world’s second-largest film market, on Jan. 5.

A $425 million-plus figure would make “The Last Jedi” one of the five biggest worldwide film openings ever, not adjusting for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo. The global champ is currently Universal Pictures’ 2017 blockbuster “The Fate of the Furious” ($542 million), followed closely by “The Force Awakens” ($529 million).

While “Star Wars” dominates the box office again, on the corporate side, the release has been overshadowed by Disney’s proposed $52.4-billion deal to buy much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox media empire.

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