The year-long Star Wars celebration continued on October 19th, when Disney unveiled the third and final trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The trailer’s release was in conjunction with advanced tickets going on sale – just under two months from the movie’s theatrical premiere – and Star Wars fans turned out en masse, to ensure they’d have a spot at their local theater opening weekend.
Within moments of the ticket sales going live, sites like Fandango and Movie Tickets were crashing, scalpers were selling opening night tickets on eBay, and The Force Awakens has already found its way into the box office record books. As you might expect, the seventh installment of the beloved space opera has shattered a multitude of pre-release marks, indicating that anticipation is through the roof.
Deadline did a full recap of the performance, first listing the IMAX sales. Just from domestic advanced ticket sales for the premium format, The Force Awakens has already grossed a whopping $6.5 million. The film is going to debut on 390 IMAX screens across North America, and will reportedly own every IMAX screen in the country for a short period of time. Star Wars absolutely demolished this record, which was previously held in a three-way tie between The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, and The Avengers. All three of those blockbusters made around $1 million from advanced IMAX sales.
Fandango has also been enjoying the rush to get Force Awakens tickets, as the site saw traffic reach 7 times typical peak levels last night. Star Wars has sold 8 times as many tickets as the previous first-day record holder for Fandango (the first Hunger Games). The film is also making history at AMC. The theater chain sold out 1,000 shows nationwide in less than 12 hours, and pre-release ticket sales were 10 times more than their previous record holder. They are continuously adding showtimes at their various locales to meet demand. Certain AMC theaters will even stay open 24 hours on December 18 to give everyone a chance to see the film.
Movietickets.com is also going to rewrite their record books following the Star Wars event. The Force Awakens accounts for 95 percent of the site’s total sales since yesterday, which obviously has led to the largest first-day sales of any film in history. Like Fandango, Movie Tickets experienced a substantial boost in traffic: 3 times higher than their largest peak in their 15+ year history. In addition, Force Awakens has already sold 4 times as many tickets as Revenge of the Sith did over the same period of time in 2005.
While the figures look alarming on paper, few people are surprised that Force Awakens is already generating a ton of revenue at the box office. It’s easily one of the most anticipated films of the year – and thanks to a stellar marketing campaign by Disney, many fans are extremely optimistic that this will serve as a “return to form” for the franchise. It’s very rare that a true cinematic event like Star Wars happens, and there are generations of fans waiting to come together and usher in a new era for the series.
It will be very interesting to see how high these numbers can go by the time it’s all said and done. The Force Awakens has a very good chance of eclipsing the opening weekend record set this June by Jurassic World, and could even become the highest-grossing film of all-time if all the right pieces fall into place. It still has a long way to go to reach that status, but Episode VII is off to a rousing, unprecedented start of what should be an extremely fruitful box office run.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.