The Force won't be the only thing awakened when the new "Star Wars" movie opens next Thursday evening. Bleary-eyed movie theater employees will be ripping tickets through the night, as cinema chains add around-the-clock showtimes to cash in on the unprecedented demand.
Interest in seeing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which has set advance sales records and pushed ticket prices up into the thousands on secondary markets, has theaters squeezing in additional showtimes, many in the middle of the night and early morning. AMC Theatres was one of the first chains to add extra times, and is showing the movie throughout the night at at least 36 of its theaters. Hordes of "Star Wars" fanatics who insist on seeing the movie on its opening weekend have snapped up tickets for those new showings, even if that involves popcorn for breakfast.
For example, a 5:30 a.m. showing of the movie on Dec. 18 in an IMAX-equipped theater at AMC's Century City 15 in Los Angeles had only a smattering of seats open in the first three rows as of Thursday afternoon. The 9 a.m. showtime will be even more packed, with the only available seats in the front row. And that's on a non-holiday Friday morning.
Middle of the night showings are popular too. AMC's Fresh Meadows 7 in Queens, New York has 8 showtimes starting between midnight and 5 a.m. on opening night. The Regal Cinemas Union Square 14, also in New York, is offering showtimes at 2, 2:30 and 3 a.m.
IMAX showings have been the hottest tickets, but fans will also be flocking to standard theaters in impressive numbers. As of Thursday afternoon, less than 15 percent of seats were available for a 3 p.m. showing on Dec. 18 in Century City, and all but two were either in the front two rows or reserved for disabled customers.
Compare that with "The Big Short," a movie about the financial crisis based on Michael Lewis' best-selling book and headlined by Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale that opens Thursday night. As of Thursday afternoon, there were plenty of tickets available in every row for the 7 p.m. showing at the Century City AMC – even though it's in a much smaller theater than those showing "Star Wars."
And it's not just American audiences that can't bear to wait a few more days to catch up with Han and Luke. Canadian theater chain Cineplex Entertainment announced Thursday morning that it would be adding 160 showtimes at 115 theaters throughout the country. Like AMC, Cineplex is also doing around-the-clock showings at select theaters in major Canadian cities.