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Friday, 21 May, 1999, 16:22 GMT
Star Wars breaks box office record

Record breaker: Star Wars could take up to $140m in its first five days

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace made $28.5m on its opening day, breaking the box office record of $26.1m set in 1997 by The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Star Wars
Thousands of people queued up for hours for Wednesday's opening at one minute past midnight - with many dressing up as their favourite character from the films.

Star Wars is currently showing at nearly 3,000 locations and some cinemas have been playing the movie around-the-clock.

The previous record for a Wednesday opening was $17.4m for the alien invader blockbuster Independence Day in July 1996.

star wars Fans dressed up as their favourite characters
Some box office analysts are predicting Star Wars could gross between $100m and $140m by the end of its five-day opening weekend on Sunday.

Tom Sherak, 20th Century Fox's distribution chief said he was very happy.

"It's Christmas! Star Wars is like a thoroughbred horse. You put it on the race track, you know you are going to get a great race out of it. We knew that we were going to do great; we just didn't know how great."

Despite the jubilation, The Phantom Menace is not expected to eclipse the worldwide box office record set by the film Titanic, which was released in 1997.

Titanic earned $1.7bn worldwide - much of it due to actor Leonardo DiCaprio's appeal to teenage girls who kept seeing the film over and over again.

Los Angeles Times film columnist Richard Natale said: "I don't think it is the kind of movie that will get that phenomenal repeat business.

"But when you are talking about something that is probably going to achieve at least $400m (in the US), that is nothing to sneeze at."
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