The long-awaited Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gathered in $40 million (around $60m NZD) in US and Canadian ticket sales on its opening night, Walt Disney Co. estimates.

The total ranked as the fifth-highest domestic opening night of all time, Disney said - but brought in less than the previous Star Wars instalments in the final trilogy, according to Reuters.

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The Force Awakens (2015) raked in $57 ($86m NZD) million on its opening night, while the 2017 episode The Last Jedi hauled in $45 ($68m NZD) million.

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The Rise of Skywalker has earned an additional $59.1 ($89m NZD) million internationally, Disney said.

The JJ Abrams film brings the 42-year film saga to a close, begun by George Lucas in 1977.

The film stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac teaming up to fight against the First Order.

The third instalment in the final Star Wars trilogy brings the 42-year-old saga to a close. Photo / File
The third instalment in the final Star Wars trilogy brings the 42-year-old saga to a close. Photo / File

It's divided critics, but Disney says Star Wars fans have welcomed it with open arms - 86 per cent of ticket buyers surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes gave it a positive rating.

The movie is expected to land among the biggest film openings in history by Sunday.

The Force Awakens drew in $248 million ($375m NZD) in ticket sales throughout its first weekend, with The Last Jedi bringing in $220 million ($333m NZD).

Disney's Avengers: Endgame holds the record for a Thursday night opening, pulling in $60 million ($90m NZD) on its opening night before breaking another record with $357 million ($541m NZD) over the weekend.