Rush for Star Wars tickets crashes website

LOS ANGELES • Star Wars fans were given the longest look yet at the upcoming film, The Force Awakens, on Monday, in an actionpacked trailer that became the top trending topic on Twitter and sparked a rush of bookings that crashed an American online ticket seller.

The 21/2-minute trailer, which debuted during the half-time of ESPN’s National Football League game, quickly attracted more than 17,000 tweets a minute, according to Twitter. It was viewed on YouTube more than 220,000 times within the first 20 minutes.

Tickets for the film’s United States release on Dec 18 were released at the same time as the trailer, with ticket-seller Fandango crashing temporarily.

Earlier on Monday, British fans snapped up tens of thousands of tickets for The Force Awakens, with movie theatre chains reporting record business for advance tickets. Cinema chain Odeon said Monday was “our busiest day ever for online bookings”, while Vue Entertainment said it had sold 10,000 tickets within the first 90 minutes. Both said some customers faced delays purchasing online.

The trailer, which features franchise veterans Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher alongside a cast of newcomers, kicks off with Rey (Daisy Ridley) as a scavenger presumed to be the daughter of Princess Leia (Fisher) and Han Solo (Ford).

Fisher makes her trailer debut as Leia, hair buns intact, as she is embraced by Han. Leia is heard saying: “The Force, it’s calling to you. Just let it in.”

Notably missing is Mark Hamill, who reprises his role as Luke Skywalker, but has yet to be seen in character.

The trailer for the film, directed by J.J. Abrams, provided the vast scope of the new film and the leading characters’ challenges.

Finn (John Boyega),a Stormtrooper on the run, says: “I was raised to do one thing, but I’ve got nothing to fight for”, and is later seen battling KyloRen(AdamDriver).

Kylo is shown alongside the charred mask of Darth Vader, saying: “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.”

Fans have seen only two teasers: November’s 88-second trailer and April’s two-minute trailer, in which Han and Chewbacca made their first appearances.

Ahead of the trailer release, Abrams tweeted: “We cannot wait to share the trailer with you tonight. I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, Jawa, Wookie, Jedi or Sith. I just hope you like it.”

The film is expected to gross about US$100 million (S$138.6 million) in North America on its opening weekend, said senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian at media research firm Rentrak.

He added that it could earn more than US$2 billion globally. “This is maybe the most-anticipated movie of the last 10 years,” he said.

Star Wars, created by George Lucas, has grossed more than US$4.4 billion globally since 1977 with six films.

The Force Awakens is the first of three new Star Wars movies being produced by Disney since it purchased franchise owner Lucasfilm in 2012 for US$4.05 billion.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Rush for Star Wars tickets crashes website'. Print Edition | Subscribe