Box-Office Preview: 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Breaks German Pre-Sales Record But Police Warn of Security Concerns
Leave your blasters and lightsabers at home, police advise fans, warning of stricter theater security in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens has broken all previous pre-sale ticket records in Germany, following similar trends worldwide.
Now the question is whether J.J. Abrams' take on the George Lucas sci-fi universe will post the biggest-ever opening weekend here or just the biggest this year.
Disney has typically been tight-lipped with regards to Star Wars pre-sales, but a spokeswoman in Germany confirmed a local news report that, by the end of November, fans had pre-bought more than 550,000 tickets for the film, which opens in Germany on Dec. 17. With ticket prices ranging from $9.50 for a children's ticket to the regular 2D version of the film to $22 for a premium adult 3D ticket, Disney is looking at pre-sale revenue of at least $8 million to $12 million in Germany. Star Wars' total weekend bow will likely be twice to three times that figure.
Major cinema chains have been publishing their pre-sale numbers, which have smashed all previous records. Germany's leading chain, Cinestar, reported 200,000 pre-sold tickets by Dec. 14. Cinemaxx and Cinemplex notched up more than 150,000 each. A spokesperson for the UCI Kinowelt chain said pre-sales for their theaters passed the 100,000 mark last week, more than doubling sales for the previous record-holder, erotic thriller Fifty Shades of Grey.
The record to beat for best opening in Germany this year is local comedy Suck Me Shakespeer 2, which bowed to $20 million en route to a $69 million total take. Both those marks look set to fall as The Force Awakens takes over German theaters. The opening weekend of Spectre at $18 million is the second-largest of the year to date.
The real targets to watch in the German market are the all-time records. The opening-weekend champ is Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which bowed to $30.8 million in Germany in 2003 and closed out at nearly $90 million in the territory. Not too far behind in the rankings is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which had a $23.8 million first weekend in Germany in 2009. The all-time box-office crown that Focre Awakens will be pursuing in Germany, as in most territories, belongs to James Cameron's Avatar, which bowed to a relatively minor $13 million in 2009 but went on to gross more than $162 million in the territory.
While nothing is likely to rain on Disney's Star Wars parade here — not even rain, which could actually boost cinema attendance — the promise of packed movie theaters and around-the-block lines is worrying local police. Jorg Radek, a spokesman for the German police union, warned filmgoers to expect tighter security at multiplexes in the wake of the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris last month. Radek advised cosplay fans, who plan to dress up as their favorite Star Wars characters, to leave anything that could look like a weapon — including lightsabers and toy blasters — at home to avoid being mistaken for a member of the dark side and selected for additional security screening.