“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and kept on hootin’ and hollerin’ about getting some tickets!”
Star Wars is practically a religion. Hell, for just under 400 000 people in the UK, it officially is a religion. So when ticket sales opened worldwide on Monday morning, herded on by the imminent arrival of an incredible brand new trailer that even left its stars all emotional, it was understandably expected that ticket pre-sales would be good. Just how good though, not even master Yoda could have foresaw.
While locally word of ticket sales took a little while to get traction (though early birds like yours truly got in there pretty quickly), it wasn’t the same in the US though, where word rapidly got out, sending fans into a feeding frenzy for ticket. Fandango, the biggest online movie ticket vendor in the US revealed (via ComingSoon) that the demand hit unprecedented, record-breaking levels.
“This is an extraordinary time for the industry, which experienced unprecedented ticketing demand last night for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’” the company said in a statement. “In fact, Fandango traffic surged to 7 times its typical peak levels, propelling Fandango’s advance sales for ‘Star Wars’ to a record-setting first day of pre-sales. For ‘Star Wars,’ we have already sold 8 times as many tickets as we did on the first day of sales for the previous record holder [The Hunger Games].
“Movie theaters are continually adding new show times on Fandango to meet the phenomenal demand. The enthusiasm for this year’s most anticipated movie is out of this world and we expect it to continue all the way to its debut on December 18.”
Eight times! EIGHT TIMES!! That is absolute craziness. Meanwhile American theatre chain AMC reported that in less than 12 hours, they sold out more than 1,000 shows nationwide, being forced to continually add more shows. And the madness continued on other ticket sales vendors like MovieTickets:
“[Star Wars: The Force Awakens ticket sales] produced the biggest first day sales of any title for MovieTickets.com. Last night MovieTickets.com saw traffic 3 times higher than the highest peak in the company’s 15+ year history. U.S. advance ticket sales for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” via MovieTickets.com continue to trend at number 1 with 95% of all tickets sold in the last 24 hours.”
That type of insane demand had a price though, as several websites were subsequently brought crashing down as fans flocked to every potential corner of the internet to secure their tickets for opening day. And as Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse CEO/Founder revealed, while they had anticipated a huge rush, nothing had prepared them for anything of this magnitude.
“Last night we had the single biggest simultaneous surge for movie tickets our industry has ever seen. The great news is that Star Wars fandom is as strong as ever. Unfortunately, that surge exposed weaknesses in our ticketing infrastructure, and that of Fandango, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, not to mention other exhibitors across the globe who also crashed.
But that is not a good enough excuse. The Alamo Drafthouse has been preparing for this hugely important day for the past nine months, and we thought we were ready. We spun up 40 simultaneous servers and were monitoring the load to instantaneously add more if needed. We hosted our static pages in a state-of-the-art cloud environment that could also instantaneously expand with demand. The massive onslaught of simultaneous users, however, exposed an unforeseen flaw in the ticketing infrastructure itself that we were unable to fix on the fly.
We tried to be ready for this hugely important day, and we missed the mark.”
According to Deadline, all of this means that technically, Star Wars: The Force Awakens already has a substantial domestic gross despite being nearly two months away from release still. They’re reporting that IMAX alone has already seen $6.5 million ticket sales, shattering previous sales records held by Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Avengers who were all hovering around the $1 million pre-sales mark. That is astounding.
We’ve yet to receive any figures for local sales, but judging by online chatter and how quickly opening day tickets eventually sold out once people got wind of their availability, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some local records toppling as well. At this point in time, there’s a good chance that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will not have any press preview screenings anywhere in the world, but clearly this is one movie that needs absolutely zero help from press to be a success.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens locally on Wednesday, 16 December.
Last Updated: October 21, 2015