By Andrew Mata
Star Wars: The Force Awakens generated $6.5 million in pre-sale tickets, breaking every Imax record and the record for most tickets sold on the first day, surpassing The Hunger Games, which earned nearly $1 million.
Demand has prompted theaters to stay open for 24 hours. Edwards Irvine Spectrum is offering odd show times like 1:40 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Disney, which bought Lucasfilms for $4.05 billion, contributed to the hype by creating Season of the Force, which is a Star Wars takeover of Tomorrowland rides and shops.
Some of the most notable changes are a revamp of Space Mountain with a Star Wars theme, updates to Star Tours and a revamp of the Path of the Jedi live-show.
The park also added the Star Wars Launch Bay, which features original movie props, costumes and models of the characters.
“The new effects they added to the rides are cool,” said Marco Gutierrez, a Disneyland guest. “I love how Disney can take an old ride and make it new again.”
Disney has also added food to its menu at Disneyland inspired by the Star Wars universe, like the Darth Tamale, First Order Burger and a Chewbacca Cheesecake.
“The food is amazing! I love when Disneyland puts out new food because they always get it right,” said Isabel Gutierrez, a Disneyland guest.
Fans who can’t visit Disneyland can fuel their Star Wars addiction at stores like Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, which have designated areas for Star Wars products ranging from toys to clothing.
Many fans took advantage of Force Friday, a merchandising holiday during which toys, gadgets, and other Star Wars product related to the new film were released by major retailers Sept. 4 at midnight.
Movie-inspired merchandise is projected to bring in more than $5 billion in its first year, according to a report published by Macquarie Securities analyst Tim Nollen.
The action shooter game Star Wars: Battlefront released by EA Dice Nov. 17 has contributed to publicity for the upcoming film.
It is a reboot of an older game with the same title.
EA expects to sell 13 million copies of the game by the end of this fiscal year, according to early predictions by EA CFO Blake Jorgensen.
Playstation 4 gaming systems are now being sold with the game as a bundle.
The first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has more than 66 million views on YouTube.
“Star Wars is all around us right now in stores, on TV and even on the Internet. The way people are talking about it, it can be one of the biggest movies ever,” Gutierrez said.