Records are tumbling for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens has smashed the records for advance ticket sales in Australia, pointing to a massive opening at 12.01 am on December 17.
Exhibitors describe the pre-launch business as unprecedented with Event Cinemas/Birch Carroll & Coyle reporting sales of more than $3 million, Village Cinemas clocking more than $1.5 million and Hoyts more than $1 million.
J.J. Abrams’ intergalactic adventure looks certain to surpass the record $18.3 million debut of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The Hogwarts’ midnight screenings racked up $2.4 million and the Warner Bros/Roadshow release finished with $52.5 million.
Some industry executives expect the new Star Wars to open at $25 million, while predictions of its ultimate earnings vary from $70 million to as high as $100 million.
Wallis Cinemas program manager Bob Parr says, “Advance sales are a record never seen before. They are still growing week by week. Normally if tickets go on sale for a tentpole film there is an initial rush then nothing. With lots of sessions everywhere it is not unreasonable to expect 100 million.”
Jo Bladen, general manager – studios, The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, tells IF, “We are very pleased with the initial figures, which just keep growing. We are not predicting the gross B.O. but we hope to break all previous records for Disney and hopefully a few for the industry too.”
Bladen won’t know the final number of screens until the Monday before the premiere but it is likely to be higher than the Potter film’s 751, occupying more than one third of the nation's screens.
Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the sci-fier co-written by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan stars Harrison Ford, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Gwendoline Christie.
Ford will be in Sydney on December 9 and 10. The tour will include a fan event with a Q&A hosted by Jay Laga'aia on the steps of the Opera House on the Thursday. Tickets sold out within two hours.
The media campaign will span free and pay TV, outdoor, radio and digital. In a novel promotion Disney is asking asking Australians which “side” they are on – #lightside or #darkside, http://chooseyourside.starwars.com.au/
Disney is working with promotional partners including Holden, Optus, Google, Duracell and Hewlett-Packard.
The ultimate question may be: Can Abrams’ juggernaut overtake Avatar’s $115.6 million to rank as the highest-grosser ever in Australia?