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Fan frenzy as Force Awakens blasts off with £9.4m earnings

They laughed. They cried - and they came in droves.

Star Wars fans flooded cinemas around the world for the first showings of the breathlessly-anticipated seventh instalment of the space saga, and floated out on nostalgia and positive reviews.

"Wow! JJ Baby that was one in a million!!!" Harry Knowles, founder of fan site Ain't It Cool News, gushed on Twitter, where StarWarsTheForceAwakens was a trending topic.

For many fans, finally seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was an emotional experience.

"My emotions. My mind. My heart," Esteban Detres said on Twitter after watching the film in IMAX at a Dallas cinema. "The hype was more than delivered on. It was everything I ever thought it would be."

The global rollout of The Force Awakens was breaking records abroad and in pre-sales ahead of its Thursday evening debut in the United States.

Walt Disney said the film debuted with 14.1 million dollars (£9.4m) from its first screenings on Wednesday in 12 international markets. The largest was France, where the film earned 5.2 million dollars (£3.5m). It set a one-day record in Norway and Sweden.

More than 100 million dollars (£67m) in tickets have been pre-sold in North America. The movie ticket service Fandango said it has already sold more tickets for The Force Awakens than any film over its entire cinema run.

Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney, sought to assure moviegoers that cinemas are not sold out.

"There are literally millions of tickets available for this weekend," he said.

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