Why Harrison Ford is the Real Force Behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Star Wars’ fans fail to spot Harrison Ford in audience during ‘The Force Awakens’ preview screening.

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens everywhere in the U.S. on Dec. 18, it will be the first film in the Star Wars franchise that will be presented in 3D during its original release. In 2012, Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, first released in 2D in 1999, was converted to 3D and re-released, but then Disney tabled plans to re-release 3D versions of the second two films in the series.

A select group of Australian fans were given the opportunity to watch 10 minutes of footage from the upcoming film – the plot of which has been kept largely under wraps – at the IMAX Theatre at Sydney’s Darling Harbour, but they had no clue that Harrison Ford was also in attendance. At one of the Hollywood Boulevard location — the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre, where the first “Star Wars” premiered in 1977 — fans are already camped out this weekend, eagerly awaiting their turn when the film opens for regular folks next Friday. Ford, who returns to his role as Han Solo in the new film, joined guests at Sydney Opera House as they watched a short preview of the film, which finally hits cinemas next week.

The machine behind Star Wars has evolved into its own Galactic Empire, leaning on generations of kids’ nostalgia to sell them everything from a Darth Vader toaster to soup with little R2-D2s in it. Abrams, at a recent junket, explained his decision to send out a 3D version, saying, “As someone who really hasn’t been the most vocal advocate of 3D, the strangest thing happened to me on this. She and several friends who drove up from Orange County wanted an out-of-this-world experience. “I need to see it in an epic place with people who are just as excited about ‘Star Wars’ as me,” said Dominguez, 32, who was among about 150 devotees in line at the Chinese on Friday, occasionally ducking under awnings to avoid a passing shower. Ticket seller Fandango says advance ticket sales for “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” has already topped every other movie and Imax says it has sold double the previous record.

When I was watching the reels in 3D, there were a number of shots — and I know this sounds insane — that I hadn’t understood in the three-dimensional space quite the way I did when I saw them in 2D. Whether it bests the biggest grosser of all time — “Avatar,” with $2.8 billion worldwide — depends on word of mouth and whether fans love it enough to watch it multiple times through the new year. “Star Wars” will have the advantage of having weak competition for months. I had never felt that before.” Disney and Lucasfilm announced in late 2013 that Force Awakens would be available in 3D, and the movies’ format choices are now listed on marketing materials. This time, the theater operator is allowing them to camp out on top of the theater’s famous celebrity hand- and footprints, instead of along the sidewalk out front.

Alongside the returning trio of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, the film’s cast includes Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis. That’s what we’re talking about.” Exactly a month from release, “The Force Awakens” had 405 million trailer and teaser views on Facebook and YouTube.

That’s 87 percent more than this summer’s “Jurassic World,” which opened domestically with a record $208.8 million in ticket sales and owns the all-time No. 3 spot with $1.7 billion worldwide. Even though the appetite for the format has waned in North America, it remains far more popular overseas. “It’s very rare that a big tentpole doesn’t have a 3D component. An invitation sent to members of the media Friday afternoon requested that they withhold from spoiling the film after seeing it for the first time Monday night and dress in “‘Star Wars'” chic” attire to the event. It’s especially popular overseas,” said Eric Handler of MKM partners. “Disney is a big fan of 3D film.” Three different formats of Force Awakens will play in Imax theaters. As for the all-time high, one thing “Avatar” had going for it: It rode a wave of consumer interest in 3-D, which costs a few dollars more than regular tickets.

And it may not end there; some predict that those alive for the 1977 launch will be long dead by the time Disney runs out of Star Wars films to produce. The vast majority of locations will offer Imax 3D, while 18 to 20 locations will play Imax 70mm film and another 18 to 20 theaters Imax will use laser project.

John Jenal said the department is treating the premiere like other marquee events that take place on Hollywood Boulevard, including the Academy Awards. Abrams shot one key sequence with Imax cameras, and anyone seeing the movie in an Imax location will see the movie expand to take up the entire screen during that sequence. The first installment of “The Hunger Games” was the leader in advance sales, but topped out at a worldwide gross of $693 million, not even in the all-time Top 10.

The movie also has a much bigger Chinese box office to tap. “Avatar” pulled down a monstrous $204 million in China through 2010, but the theatrical market there is now at least three times as big. It could make the difference between the so-so reaction to the “Star Wars” prequels in Episodes 1 to 3 — with heavily parodied characters like Jar Jar Binks and video-game-like action scenes — and the satisfying revival that fans are hoping for. “The brand name alone and the excitement for the franchise will get huge numbers in the door,” Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “But for very long-term prospects, you have to have a movie that delivers.”

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