The months and months of hype have paid off for Disney and Lucasfilm this afternoon, as theater chains began offering advance ticket sales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hits theaters two months from today on December 18. Perhaps a little too well, however. Legions of Star Wars fans immediately rushed to online ticket sellers to secure their seats but alas, the force is not strong with them. The sudden rush of demand from Jedi-happy fans has caused loading issues and site outages on purchasing platforms including Fandango, the Alamo Drafthouse, and AMC Theaters.
While inconvenient for moviegoers, the news has to feel like victory to Disney and Lucasfilm, demonstrating the continuing pop cultural and market power of the franchise many abandoned after less-than-universally beloved prequel trilogy ended in 2005. Of course the film was going to be a success, but how much of a success is the key question. Experts have been predicting a record-smashing $615 worldwide opening for the film. Obviously great if it happens, as we saw earlier this year with The Avengers: Age of Ultron, failure to meet those expectations might lead to people talking about The Force Awakens as a disappointment no matter how many lesser millions of dollars it rakes in. Right now those sky-high (or, if you prefer, orbital) predictions for box office earnings look positively reasonable.
That’s small comfort for those still unable to buy their tickets – Predictably, fans were not happy, taking to twitter en masse to lament their destiny.