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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuts new trailer, breaks presale records

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By Thomas Kika


 

The “Star Wars” hype wave found a new high to crest at last Monday.  The third – and probably final – trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted during Monday Night Football on Oct. 19 before making its way online.  Around the same time, tickets for the seventh film in the massively-popular franchise were put on sale, leading to more web traffic than some online outlets were evidently prepared for.

   The trailer itself is the most revealing look yet at the highly-anticipated film, after two previously released trailers that played much more like teasers.  Still, true to the secretive tendencies of director J.J. Abrams, much about the film’s plot and characters are still a mystery.  Among the new things in the trailer were the first lines of spoken dialogue from some of the film’s major new characters: desert-scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley), ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), and the menacing masked villain Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).  These new lines gave further hints about the nature of each character, with Rey describing herself as “no one,” Finn despairing about having “nothing to fight for,” and Ren promising to “finish what you started,” while seeming to address the half-melted mask of series icon, Darth Vader.

   Of significance to the plot of the film was an exchange in the trailer between Rey and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), wherein Rey says that “There are stories about what happened,” referring to the original films, to which Solo responds, “It’s true.  All of it.”  The takeaway from this is that the events of the classic films have by this point in the “Star Wars” universe passed into legend and here-say, meaning that whatever Mark Hamill’s still-unseen Luke Skywalker has been up to in the last thirty years, it has not involved rebuilding the Jedi Order.

A few other new things warrant a mention.  The trailer includes voice-over from Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, an alien character that the actress provided the voice and performance capture for.  On the returning cast side, Carrie Fischer’s Princess Leia also makes a quick appearance, looking distressed in the arms of Han Solo.  Still AWOL from the proceedings is Luke Skywalker, save for a quick shot of a veiled figure revealing a mechanical arm presumed to be the famous Jedi hero.  This continued absence seems to confirm early rumors that Disney and Lucasfilm intend to keep Hamill’s character out of the film’s marketing entirely.

In the 24 hours after the trailer’s debut, it garnered 112 million views online, in addition to 16 million who caught the trailer during Monday Night Football.  These numbers completely dwarfed the views that the previous trailers received in the same amount of time: 55 million for the first teaser debuted around Thanksgiving 2014, and 88 million for the second teaser which debuted at Star Wars Celebration in April.

Those were not the only record-shattering numbers in the “Star Wars” realm recently.  A little before the debut of the new trailer, advance tickets for “The Force Awakens” were put up for sale across the country.  As hordes of fans raced to secure their seats for the film’s opening weekend, several popular online ticket sellers buckled under the traffic and crashed, including the likes of Fandango and AMC Theaters.  When the dust cleared, the film ended up with record-setting presale numbers.  Fandango reported that “The Force Awakens” sold more tickets in its first day than the previous champ, “The Hunger Games,” a staggering eight times over.  The film also sold more advance tickets for IMAX showings than any other film, making $6.5 million dollars, in comparison to films like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” which each made around $1 million in the same time frame.

While many could have guessed that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would be a massive success, the film seems intent on surpassing even the highest estimates imaginable.  Come Dec. 18, to quote the other most popular blockbuster series of the 1970’s, pop culture is “gonna need a bigger boat” to handle the film’s impact.

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