Star Wars The Force Awakens review
Rey and BB-8 on Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens LucasFilm

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has enjoyed the biggest opening weekend in history making more than $500m (£338m) worldwide. According to the cinema tracking website Box Office Mojo, JJA Abrams' sequel took in $238m (£160) across the US and a further $279m (£190m) worldwide.

In the UK and Ireland, the film had brought in £9.6m in just two days on Thursday and Friday, knocking the previous record-holder for UK cinema releases, the latest James Bond romp Spectre, into second place by a whopping £3m.

The film has taken $517m (£347m) worldwide – the second biggest global opening in history, putting it slightly behind Jurassic World's $525m (£353m). However, Jurassic World opened in China on its first weekend, something that won't happen for The Force Awakens until 9 January.

Experts believe that the film is comfortably on target to smash all sorts of other records, too.

Cinemas in the UK and Ireland reported more than a million pre-sales of tickets for a film for the first time with the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga, and some estimates expect the film to have made as much as $650m (£436m) by the end of Sunday.

The film's debut has been helped by almost uniformly positive reviews, as well as a uniquely enduring popularity for a franchise whose last three films are not considered as cinematic masterpieces.

The Star Wars franchise was acquired by Disney from its original owner Lucasfilm for $4bn (£2.69bn) in 2012, with a view to constructing a more commanding cinematic universe in the vein of Marvel's series of prodigiously successful superhero films – which are also owned by Disney, as it happens.