Star Wars smashes box office record

As we told you in our “Smell The Coffee” column earlier this morning, we expected to hear more about “Star Wars” today. In fact, the film did indeed smash the box office record previously set by Universal.

20th Century Fox just announced that “Phantom Menace” took in a record $28.5 million at the U.S. box office in its first 24 hours, raking in the biggest ever single day take in movie history.

“Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace” opened at one minute past midnight on Wednesday in almost 3,000 movie theaters across the United States. The previous single day box office record was held by “Lost World; Jurassic Park” in 1997 at $26.1 million.

A spokeswoman for Fox, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Ltd , said according to official figures the film took in $28.54 million at the box office from 2,970 theaters. Many people lined up for hours for midnight shows.

The $115 million prequel to the original 1977 “Star Wars” blockbuster got mixed reviews from critics but won rave applause from die-hard fans, many of whom dressed up in costumes and played “Wookie Hooky” from work and school to get into the movie.

The galactic hype accompanying the movie and the record first-day figures should set the sci-fi adventure on the road to reaping about $1 billion at the box office worldwide, according to industry experts. It is not expected to top “Titanic”, which despite a slow start brought in some $1.7 billion worldwide.

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