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Last Updated: Monday, 23 May, 2005, 02:51 GMT 03:51 UK
New Star Wars film breaks records
Queue outside a Parisian cinema
Parisians were keen to see the new Star Wars film
Revenge of the Sith, the final Star Wars film, has broken almost every US box office record taking an estimated $158.5m in its first four days.

Showing on more than 9,000 screens, the film took $50,013,859 (27,370,585) on Thursday, its first day of release.

The sixth film of George Lucas' epic cycle also set new two, three and four-day North American records.

However, it failed by $6m to clinch the opening weekend record - $114.8m set by Spider-Man in 2002.

On Thursday, Revenge of the Sith opened with special midnight screenings and beat the previous one-day record of $44.8m (24.5m) set by Shrek 2 in May 2004.

Bruce Snyder, president of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox, called the takings "staggering".

"It's probably 20% more than I thought we could do," he said.

He said that people were going straight to the box office to buy more tickets as they left cinemas after seeing the film.

'100-year flood'

The film shows how Anakin Skywalker crosses over to the dark side and is transformed into the evil warlord Darth Vader.

Taking $108.5m in its first weekend, Revenge of the Sith easily outstripped the last two Star Wars movies, Attack of the Clones, which took $80m when it opened three years ago, and The Phantom Menace, which took $64.8 in its opening weekend in 1999.

Fans dressed as Darth Vader in Santiago
Some fans even dressed up to see the final episode
As well as its North American success, Revenge of the Sith took another $144.7m in worldwide ticket sales in its first four days.

Thursday's special midnight screenings alone took an estimated $16.5m in North America - more than double the amount The Return of the King, the final Lord of the Rings film, took from its midnight showings in 2003.

"Fifty million is a good opening weekend, let alone a single day," said Paul Dergerabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"This is the box office equivalent of a 100-year flood."

The news will come as a relief to cinema owners, who have seen takings slump for 12 straight weeks.

On both sides of the Atlantic, Star Wars fans queued to be the first to see Revenge of the Sith at screenings at one minute past midnight on Thursday.

By Friday the film had been screened in more than 100 countries in what industry publication Screen Daily described as the widest simultaneous global movie release of all time.


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