Star Wars: The Force Awakens has smashed all known records for advance ticket sales in the US, racking up more than $50m with just under a month to go until the film hits cinemas, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The sales dwarf the previous record of $25m, set by The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, fuelling speculation that JJ Abrams’s film could challenge Avatar for the mantle of highest-grossing film of all time. With tickets having only been available since 19 October, when the latest trailer debuted, the advance figure could hit $100m if sales continue at the current rate.
To put that in perspective, the all-time opening box-office record in the US is held by Jurassic World, which debuted with $209m in June. The Force Awakens would be almost halfway there before a single screening takes place.
Advance ticket sales in the US have been fuelled by Imax screenings, with the company reporting record-breaking figures of $9m – again, double its previous best. Online retailer Fandango also reported smashing all previous known records.
Cinemas in North America, which remains the world’s largest box-office territory despite growing competition from China, will stay open around the clock to try and meet demand for Abrams’s film. Some have scheduled screenings for unlikely times such as 2am and 5am.
The Force Awakens will need a spectacular opening weekend if it is to reach Avatar’s 2009-10 total of $2.79bn. James Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy benefited from huge numbers of repeat viewings after the movie became a word-of-mouth phenomenon for its pioneering use of 3D. It also did well in China, where Star Wars has less of a following, as the original trilogy released in cinemas between 1977 and 1983 never screened there. Many Chinese people were unaware of Star Wars until recently.
Abrams’s film opens in US cinemas on 18 December, a day after its UK release. There are signs that advance ticket sales for British screenings have also been plentiful, with Disney reporting a record 200,000-plus purchases in the first 24 hours of availability on 20 October.
Bookmaker Paddy Power, said it had suspended betting altogether on The Force Awakens taking the all-time box-office record. Meanwhile, William Hill has slashed odds from 12/5 to 6/4 in the space of a month.
This article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Friday 20th November 2015 11.12 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010