It’s rolling out to 4,134 theaters this weekend, but exhibitors just got to see the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens today and the response so far has been rollicking. In fact, it was reported to Deadline that one exhibitor expects this to be a multi-view movie which is exactly what the nation’s theater owners hope for — not only for the box office receipts but also for concession sales which is where they make a ton of money.
“What we are counting on is that this will be a repeat-view movie and from what I’ve seen Disney has the goods. Couldn’t be more delighted,” the exhibitor said. The weekend before Christmas traditionally is a bad one to open a movie because of people’s travel, shopping and party plans. That being said, if a movie can cut through tradition, this is the one to do it.
If movie times are sold out, it may be a problem as well. How high this gross will go is anyone’s guess, but if you have the tag-alongs, it could easily break the $200M barrier. How easy? One exhibitor expects the pic will blow away $200M and be closer to $250M, given that Star Wars is playing at midnight shows as well as 2 AM shows, something Jurassic World did not do.
So far, advance ticket sales have been astronomical, breaking records. Those pre-sale numbers actually apply to the full week. The biggest pre-sales were for Thursday, followed by Friday and Christmas Day, according to our sources. Since the biggest numbers were for the preview date, industry trackers say that the film could break Thursday preview records with a box office take of anywhere from about $50M.
Said Elizabeth Frank, chief content and programming officer at AMC: “You can’t get any broader than this movie when it comes to audience appeal, and this weekend and beyond AMC will offer consumers the opportunity to enjoy Star Wars however they would like — evening, midnight or morning, Imax, Dolby Cinema, 2D or 3D, big cities and small towns, even corporate events and children’s birthday parties. And there are plenty of tickets available for them all.”
One film buyer said there is much juggling going on for films, but they have cleared as many screens as possible in anticipation. “I don’t know why anyone would open a movie against it, but they have.”
Said another exhibitor: “We have a six-screen house, and we are playing Star Wars on five of those screens. It’s stupid to have anything else in your theaters right now.”
In fact, lost in the hype of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are two other films opening this weekend: Fox is releasing the family film Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip — the latest in the installment which always brings in a sizable Hispanic audience. Right now, it’s looking like a low- to mid-teen three-day. The other film is the counterprogramming buddy comedy Sisters starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler which is tracking around $9M-$12M so far for Universal. Once again, this is a rough weekend to get any women to go to the movies with the weight of the holidays.