'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Hits Pre-Sales Record in Russia

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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

According to forecasts, the movie can outdo 'Avatar' at the box office in the country.

In Russia, advance ticket sales for the new installment of the Star Wars franchise hit a record number, while the distributor says the movie might take a stab at beating Avatar as the country's top-grossing movie of all time.

By early December, more than 15,000 tickets for The Force Awakens were pre-sold, which is the highest number ever, the Russian business daily Vedomosti reported.

Meanwhile, Anton Sirenko, general director of Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing (WDSSPR), which is to release the movie on December 17, said earlier this month at the Russian film market that the movie could gross more than Avatar, Vedomosti reported.

The distributor wouldn't make any official forecasts, though. "We cannot make any forecasts regarding a movie's gross before we have actual numbers," a spokesperson for WDSSPR told The Hollywood Reporter.

One reason to believe that the new Star Wars could do better than Avatar is the fact that Russia has a considerably higher number of movie screens today than it had back in 2009, when James Cameron's movie was released.

In 2009, Russia had 2,100 screens, while in early 2015 — the latest available data — the figure reached 3,800.

Under the Communist rule, Star Wars movies were not released in Russia.

The first episode of the franchise to be released here was Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace in 1999. It grossed $4.75 million, according to the local database KinoPoisk.

Three years later, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones took in $5.3 million and was in fifth place among the year's top-grossing movies.

In 2005, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith grossed $8.36 million, becoming the year's sixth-highest-grossing movie.

Back in 2009, Avatar grossed $56.3 million (1.7 billion rubles at the exchange rate of the time). To surpass the dollar figure, however, a movie would have to more than double the ruble performance, as the ruble has lost a substantial part of its value since then.

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