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Why Disney Got Out Early on ‘Star Wars’ Theater Bookings and Hype (TRAILER)

Why Disney Got Out Early on 'Star Wars' Theater Bookings and Hype (TRAILER)

The first full trailer for “Star Wars: Episode VII —The Force Awakens” (two minutes and thirty-five seconds) which debuted on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broke just as advance tickets went on sale. The trailer scored more than 12 million views on the official “Star Wars” YouTube channel and has taken over the internet, while every site on the planet tries to cash in on that traffic.

(Yes, Daisy Ridley may play our first woman Jedi. And our mythology is their mythology. “It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real,” states Han Solo (Harrison Ford).)

And moviegoers wanting to book opening day December 18 theater seats crashed theater sites, which weren’t prepared for the onslaught of people wanting to attend the very first showings with all their friends, to experience the event live. I remember cutting out of work on May 25, 1977 to see the original “Star Wars” on opening day at Times Square’s Loew’s Astor Plaza. Even then it was an event.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is setting a new sales record, reports online ticket seller Fandango, breaking the tickets sold by “The Hunger Games” on its first first day, outperforming it by eight times over. IMAX screenings are already selling out, breaking their sales records for “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Avengers,” as theaters add show times.
And advance ticket sales for “The Force Awakens” yielded the biggest first-day sales of any title on MovieTickets.com. Monday night MovieTickets.com saw traffic three times higher than the highest peak in the company’s 15-year history. Advance tickets sold for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” are already four times greater than advance tickets sold for the last released installment in the franchise, “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” over the same period of time. U.S. advance ticket sales for “The Force Awakens” via MovieTickets.com continue to trend at number 1 with 95% of all tickets sold in the last 24 hours. Ticket sales to attend the “Star Wars” Marathon rank number 2.

That’s the thing. “Star Wars” is a movie we all grew up with, one that took us into a universe we wanted to return to, over and over again. (It’s not unlike Hogwarts or Pandora or Middle Earth, but it reaches back to our younger psyches.) So it’s no big surprise that Disney-backed J.J. Abrams’ reboot –which reunites the original cast–has taken on event status. It’s family.

READ MORE; ‘The Force Awakens’ Wows Comic-Con ‘Star Wars’ Fans with a Little Extra (VIDEO)

While it makes sense to do pre-sales and hype for a big-deal event tentpole, doing it this far out—two months ahead of release—is quite unusual. “It means that Disney has already not only allocated the film but has completed their deals,” points out Indiewire box office expert Tom Breuggemann. “Since these often get stretched out to the last minute on expensive films, this means they and exhibitors have already agreed to terms. Selling tickets in advance means Disney would have a huge edge in any negotiations since theaters could hardly renege on tickets sold if they had a disagreement they couldn’t overcome.”
We can assume those deals are high end, including commitments for multiple screens through the holidays (which could yield numbers ahead of modest initial openings for “Titanic” and “Avatar”). Disney also scores a big PR blast before “Spectre” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay —Part 2” open, Breuggemann adds. And far-in advance sellouts will mean that exhibitors might commit even more screens for at least the first week, complicating life for holdovers and films opening the same day (like “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”) followed by Wednesday December 23 and Christmas Day.

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