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Is the Force with China? Star Wars heads for record

All eyes are on China to help lift the latest Star Wars movie to an even greater record-breaking status, after movie studio Walt Disney announced that the "The Force Awakens" has become the highest grossing film of all time in the U.S. and Canada, while crossing the $800 million mark overseas.

On Wednesday, the studio claimed that domestic ticket sales for this "Star Wars" episode had reached $758.2 million through Tuesday, and would top the record of $760.5 million set by the 2009 release of "Avatar" on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

A visitor takes a selfie with a model of the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movies at the 17th Ani-Com and Games exhibition in Hong Kong on July 24, 2015.
Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images
A visitor takes a selfie with a model of the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movies at the 17th Ani-Com and Games exhibition in Hong Kong on July 24, 2015.

Already, "The Force Awakens" has taken in more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and is the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time after just three weeks in release, behind blockbuster releases "Avatar", "Titanic" and "Jurassic World".

For "The Force Awakens" to be crowned as the world's best performing box office movie—beating James Cameron's "Avatar" which raked in some $2.8 billion—the sci-fi epic has to perform well in China, where—it opens on Saturday.

It's not just how well the latest episode does domestically, but the overseas market can contribute up to two thirds for a big studio film's revenues, BoxOffice Media's managing editor, Daniel Loría, explains.

"The international box office has grown so much over the last five years—and (as) it's been 10 years since the last Star Wars film—Star Wars hasn't had the chance to come out during the time of the overseas box office boom that we're currently having."

"A big studio film can expect to have anywhere between two thirds to around 40 percent of its total global box office coming from the international market.

"China for example is a huge market, that was nowhere near the size it is today back when the last (Star Wars) film was released."

While 2015 was a terrific year for the box office, thanks to movies including "Jurassic World" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron", one analyst believes "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was the film that "really awakened the audiences."

"'Star Wars' is the original fandom series and for that franchise to seize all the records, well, it's a great thing for the industry," Jeff Bock, Exhibitor Relations' senior box office analyst, told CNBC via email.

"Disney has laid out a Star Wars plan very similar to Marvel movies, and with new films coming each year from here on out, it will easily become the top-grossing franchise in the history of film when all is said and done."

Creator of Star Wars, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 for $4.05 billion. Around the time of the announcement, Disney's CEO, Bob Iger told CNBC that the mass media giant saw Lucasfilm as one of the "most iconic" and successful entertainment brands, adding that by acquiring the company, Disney would be able to continue Lucas' great legacy.

There's a "tremendous amount of enthusiasm" for the Star Wars film, Paul Yanover, president of ticketing service Fandango, told CNBC in December, with the company already having seen—less than a week into U.S. theaters—a 40 percent bigger in "repeat purchase" compared to a typical blockbuster.

"This is a movie that is crossing all genders and every age group," said Yanover, adding that the film would "create renewed enthusiasm for going to the movies across every audience segment."

Reuters contributed to this article.

Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast owns Fandango and Universal Pictures.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her @AlexGibbsy and @CNBCi