SALT LAKE CITY — “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” might set a new record for one Utah theater chain.
The Megaplex Theaters have seen their biggest pre-sale ticket numbers in theater history, according to Jeff Whipple, vice president of public relations for Megaplex.
“We’ve never had a bigger advance than what we have in the works right now,” Whipple said. “We don’t know how that compares to the rest of the world. But for us, we’re looking forward to a pretty busy Star Wars opening, so it should be fun.”
Whipple said Star Wars continues to be a hot topic in Utah, and the ticket sales are clear evidence of that fact.
“There is a healthy number of Star Wars fans looking to celebrate this premiere with (other) Star Wars fans,” he said.
Whipple said Megaplex is planning to host numerous events, activities and guests for customers looking to see the new Star Wars films over the weekend.
For example, the theater will host a double-feature event, where customers can watch both “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” back-to-back.
Whipple said the company wanted to host a seven-movie extravaganza, but they didn’t receive permission from Disney.
He said Megaplex has even added more showtimes to fit everyone in for “The Last Jedi.”
Millions of Americans will sit down to watch the film next weekend. Ticket sales were so brisk that Fandango experienced a slowdown on the opening day of ticket sales back in October. Box office experts predict that “The Last Jedi” will rake in $200 million during its opening weekend from Dec. 15 to 17, according to Variety.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” topped all-time records back in December 2015, earning $248 million in its opening domestic weekend in 4,134 theaters.
The Star Wars spinoff “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opened to a $155.1 million weekend.
The Megaplex Theatres in Utah saw some of the best numbers in the country for that film. Data from the National Box Office found that Megaplex Theatres at Jordan Commons led the nation based on total dollar revenue, the Deseret News reported.
Three other Utah Megaplex Theatres placed within the nation's top 20. Megaplex at the District finished fourth, Thanksgiving Point finished 11th and Geneva in Vineyard earned the No. 19 spot.
“Utah Star Wars fans have again proven themselves the most enthusiastic in the U.S.,” Blake Andersen, president of Megaplex Theaters, said in a statement last year. “The Megaplex team is delighted to have so many fans gather at our locations to celebrate this new chapter in the classic series and are already making plans for the release of 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' coming next year.”
“The Last Jedi” might see some hiccups in its numbers, though. The Wall Street Journal reported that Disney has put increasing demands on theaters that will make it harder for them to show the film.
Disney reportedly asked theaters to show the film for four weeks and they will have to give Disney 65 percent of the revenue from the ticket sales, WSJ reported. Theaters will receive major penalties if they break the agreement. And, Disney will increase its revenue to 70 percent, the report said.
"A small town with a two-screen theater might not see the film with these conditions," comicbook.com wrote. "If they're forced to keep 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' playing for a month when they could be using that screen for newer films, they could end up losing money anyways."
However, theaters expect to still make millions from the show, mostly from soda and popcorn sales alone.2 comments on this story
Whipple said the Megaplex Theaters have a great relationship with Disney and declined to comment on the Disney controversy.
“These are big movies to make,” he said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into producing them. … (Disney has) been a great partner with us. So we’re focusing on the fans. We expect our Star Wars premiere to be a huge celebration.”
He said theater guests tend to “bring a huge party when they come.” Whipple said preparations are still underway to accommodate everyone.
“We want to make sure we have plenty of popcorn ready,” he said.