'Star Wars' passes $1 billion mark in third week     

'Star Wars' passes $1 billion mark in third week     

Star Wars passes $1 billion mark in third week

The latest episode in Disney's colossally popular "Star Wars" series has passed the $1 billion mark in worldwide revenues after just three weeks, a Disney spokesperson confirmed on Dec. 31.

That helped provide a positive spin to what has been a year of ups and downs for Hollywood, while giving a clear boost to Disney, now the only studio to surpass $5 billion globally for the last three years, according to Deadline.com.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is expected to surpass another Disney film, "Beauty and the Beast," as the year's top-earning film. "Beauty" took in more than $500 million domestically and exceeded $1.3 billion worldwide.

"Jedi" is expected to earn about $65.6 million over this four-day holiday weekend in North America, for a $530.3 million total since its opening three weeks ago, said industry watcher Exhibitor Relations. 

The space saga stars Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and two members of the series' original cast, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia.

Its domestic earnings come on top of an international take estimated at $523 million for this eighth episode in the series. "Jedi" is now the year's number one film in European theaters.          If the estimates are borne out, "Jedi" will be the eighth highest-grossing domestic movie of all time, according to Variety.com.  It opens in the enormous Chinese market on Jan. 5.

Hollywood has had its struggles this year, however.  Based on early estimates, North American revenue is expected to reach about $11.1 billion, down more than two percent from the year before, industry analysts comScore reported. 

With more people curling up to watch movies at home, theater attendance appears set to hit a 22-year low.