Behind the crash: Force too strong for cinemas selling ‘Star Wars’ tickets
BB-8 pops up in “Force Awakens.”(Disney)
A firefight in the sky in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Disney)
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shows the back end of a new X-Wing.(Disney)
Daisy Ridley as Rey in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Disney)
John Boyega as Finn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Disney)
Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”(Disney)
Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron and John Boyega as Finn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”(Disney)
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is an ace pilot in “The Force Awakens.”(David James / Lucasfilm)
R2-D2 and C-3PO are also returning in “The Force Awakens.”( David James / Lucasfilm)
The First Order displays its mght in “The Force Awakens.”(Lucasfilm )
First Order stormtroopers are shown in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(Film Frame / Associated Press)
Shown is Captain Phasma, played by “Game of Thrones” star Gwendoline Christie, in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(Film Frame / Associated Press)
Domhnall Gleeson stars as General Hux in “The Force Awakens.”(David James / Associated Press)
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is another new villain in “The Force Awakens.”(Lucasfilm)
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) wields his fancy new lightsaber in “The Force Awakens.”(Associated Press)
A dogfight takes place near what looks like the wreck of an Imperial Star Destroyer in “The Force Awakens.”(Lucasfilm )
Rey (Daisy Ridley), left, the pint-sized droid BB-8, and Finn (John Boyega) make a break for it in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(Film Frame / Associated Press)
The droid BB-8 and Rey (Daisy Ridley) cross paths with a scavenger named Teedo mounted on a Luggabeast in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(David James / Lucasfilm)
Finn (John Boyega) runs past a crashed TIE fighter in “The Force Awakens.”(David James / Lucasfilm)
Finn gets a helping hand in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(Film Frame / Associated Press)
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) appears with stormtroopers in a scene from “The Force Awakens.”(David James / Lucasfilm)
A lightsaber changes hands in a trailer for “The Force Awakens.” Why didn’t this scene make it into the movie?(Lucasfilm)
A explosion hurls a stormtrooper in the air in “The Force Awakens.”(Lucasfilm)
The Force clearly wasn’t with cinema owners Monday night.
Consumers seeking to buy advance tickets to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” found themselves out of luck when several theater websites crashed, apparently overwhelmed by the large volume of orders.
Fandango, a leading online ticket provider, and AMC Theatres, the nation’s second-largest theater chain, were among those affected. Austin, Texas based Alamo Drafthouse and Los Angeles-based Arclight Cinemas also had difficulties with their websites.
Angry patrons took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
“It’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out, and were suddenly silenced by the Arclight Cinemas site refusing to load,” one customer complained.
“We greatly apologize for the inconvenience, but we are working quickly to get the website back up ASAP,” Arclight said in a statement Monday night.
Representatives of AMC declined to comment.
Despite the technical problems experienced by some customers, Fandango said it experienced “phenomenal demand” for the Star Wars tickets. The company said it sold eight times as many tickets compared to the first presales day for “Hunger Games” in 2012, which set the previous record for advance ticket sales.
“With such extraordinary demand, we saw intermittent technical challenges that caused some consumers to queue online longer than expected,” the company said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we were able to continuously serve ticket sales throughout the night...Movie theaters are continually adding new show times on Fandango to meet the phenomenal demand.”
Alamo Drafthouse Chief Executive Tim League apologized to customers.
“Last night we had the single biggest simultaneous surge for movie tickets our industry has ever seen,” he said in a statement. “The great news is that Star Wars fandom is as strong as ever. Unfortunately, that surge exposed weaknesses in our ticketing infrastructure, and that of Fandango, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, not to mention other exhibitors across the globe who also crashed. But that is not a good enough excuse. The Alamo Drafthouse has been preparing for this hugely important day for the past nine months, and we thought we were ready...The massive onslaught of simultaneous users, however, exposed an unforeseen flaw in the ticketing infrastructure itself that we were unable to fix on the fly.”
Theater chains in the United Kingdom experienced similar problems with early ticket sales.
The ticketing problems are an embarrassment for chains that are hoping to cash in on the biggest movie of the year, one that could help the industry set a new box-office record.
Theaters frequently sell tickets before the opening of highly anticipated movies.
The movie, from Disney-owned Lucasfilm, opens in theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 18. The seventh installment in the “Star Wars” franchise is directed by J.J. Abrams.
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