‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Will Monopolize All IMAX Screens For an Entire Month

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Lucasfilm

We’ve known for a long time that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would screen in IMAX theaters because director J.J. Abrams filmed one key sequence with IMAX cameras. But now, we’ve learned the full extent of Disney and Lucasfilm’s plans for large format presentation and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a studio that has the most popular movie franchise on the planet and the power to do whatever it wants with it. The new Star Wars movie has booked pretty much every IMAX screen in the world for four weeks. Everyone with the desire to see this movie on the biggest movie screens in the world now has plenty of time to do so.

This news comes via The Hollywood Reporter and while this isn’t unprecedented (the Hobbit films booked lengthy runs), it’s still huge. For fans, it’s refreshing. If your local IMAX screening sells out, you won’t have to worry. You literally have a month to get back out there. For rival studios, this news is a real pain in the butt. Warner Bros.’ In the Heart of the Sea (opening on December 11) now only has one week to make that sweet, sweet large format money. The Revenant, set to open in January, will be at the mercy of whether or not IMAX theaters continue to book Star Wars. The only sure thing is that Disney will probably want at least some IMAX theaters free and clear to screen their January 29 release, The Final Hour.

With their high quality presentation and astonishing size, proper IMAX theaters (not those fake IMAX screens you see pop up here and there) have become a huge draw for filmgoers hoping to see something truly spectacular. For movie studios, they have become a key component of the bottom line. They command higher ticket prices, which helps pay for the massively expensive blockbusters that often demand the format. Just this Summer, Jurassic World made $44 million from IMAX theaters alone.

The exact number of IMAX screens dedicated to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is unknown, but THR suggests that 375-400 North American screens and over 400 international screens is likely. Of course, this is on top of the thousands of traditional screens that will also show the movie. Any new Star Wars movie was going to be an event, but this is the kind of power play that ensures a cultural moment. Well, as long as the movie doesn’t stink. Hey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens: don’t stink, okay?

Stinky or not, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will open on December 18, 2015.

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