By Craig Martin
The months and months of hype have paid off for Disney and Lucasfilm this week, as theater chains began offering the ever so tantalizing advance ticket sales for J.J. Abrams “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which hits theaters worldwide on December 18. However, along with the announcement, the capitalist world suffered a great problem to have as the immense “Star Wars” advertising campaign perhaps ended up working a little bit too well. As the trailer dropped on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and it was announced that the tickets were, in fact, on sale, legions of “Star Wars” fans immediately rushed to online movie ticket retailers to secure their seats but alas, the force is not strong with them. The sudden rush of demand from Jedi-happy fans caused loading issues and site outages on the world’s largest purchasing platforms including Fandango, the Alamo Drafthouse, and AMC Theaters.
Fandango was most seriously affected as of this writing, with the site timing out before the home page loads when fans attempted to access it. Service for ticket sellers has been spotty all over, and though many fans were eventually able to purchase tickets after several attempts, others are reporting they’ve gotten access only for these sites to crash again before finalization.
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 million dollar worldwide opening for the film. That would obviously be great if it happens, but as was seen earlier this year with “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, failure to meet those immense 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, following the flood of fans that populated the sites this week. However, that is still small comfort for those still unable to buy their tickets and predictably, fans were not happy, taking to twitter en masse to lament their destiny.
So, as with everything, you take the good with the bad, and while the outages may cost a few bucks for Disney and Lucasfilm at first, it doesn’t look like it is going to be a huge dent in the armor of this oncoming juggernaut.