Star Wars

By the time you read this I may have already seen it twice!!

Hollywood hoping ‘Sith’ a force to be reckoned with
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – As the dark side lures Anakin Skywalker, so too are industry insiders counting on the appeal of the final “Star Wars” movie to attract lethargic moviegoers to the theaters this weekend.
After 12 weeks of down year-over-year comparisons, the box office is counting on “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” to be the film that turns 2005 into a competitive year at the movies.
“Star Wars” creator George Lucas, 20th Century Fox and movie theater owners are doing everything in their power to ensure “Sith’s” success.
The film bows Thursday at 12:01 a.m. with an astronomical 9,400 prints, a number bested only by DreamWorks’ “Shrek 2” and Sony’s “Spider-Man 2.” In 3,661 theaters, “Sith” marks the widest release of a “Star Wars” film. (“Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” bowed on 3,161 in 2002.)
Lucas, who usually is strict about which theaters he will allow his films to be played in, has permitted Fox to expand into drive-ins and other less state-of-the art venues.
“Lucas has allowed us to play (theaters equipped with) nondigital sound and drive-ins,” said Bruce Snyder, president of distribution at Fox. “The market has changed, and we have to get out as wide as possible while the heat is on. He’s been very gracious in allowing us to go out as wide as we’re going.”
For top exhibitor Regal Entertainment Group, that means 1,733 prints in 470 theaters, a new record for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based chain. Online ticket retailer Fandango also has bested its own records, with sales as of Tuesday three times as strong as they were for “Clones” at the same point. The ticketing site, which services 1,100 theaters nationwide, has sold 60% more tickets for “Sith” than for “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” the company’s record-holder for best-selling movie.
“Those that are waiting for the summer, ‘Star Wars’ has kicked it off loud and clear,” Fandango president and CEO Art Levitt said. “There is unprecedented excitement in terms of numbers and sales, and we’re seeing a much broader-based audience then just the hard-core ‘Star Wars’ fans.”
According to Fandango, the film has already has sold out its midnight showings in theaters nationwide, including New York, Chicago, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles. And as demand increases, theaters are adding more showings; according to Snyder, most multiplexes are showing “Sith” in five to six theaters at a time.
So what will that mean for the weekend numbers? Industry insiders are predicting a four-day opener in the range of $125 million-$160 million — with the potential to best some impressive numbers. The biggest Thursday opening day, according to Nielsen EDI, was $42.5 million for Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Matrix Reloaded” in May 2003, which included Wednesday night previews starting at 10 p.m. “Reloaded” also holds the distinction of being the best four-day opener, with $134.3 million. Industry insiders are predicting that “Sith” could surpass both figures.
Another record in “Sith’s” sights is DreamWorks’ “Shrek 2” mark for any one day: $44.8 million during the first Saturday of its May 2004 release. But with the boxoffice in the doldrums for the past three months, no one is betting on anything.
At this year’s ShoWest convention, Lucas did call the final installment of his epic adventure “Titanic in Space,” but the likelihood of “Sith” reaching $600 million in total domestic box office is remote, even for the likes of Darth Vader.