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Long lines at theaters? It might be the ‘Star Wars’ trailer

🕐 3 min read

Anousha Sakoui and Christopher Palmeri (c) 2014, Bloomberg News. LOS ANGELES — The longest lines outside theaters this Thanksgiving weekend may be for the new “Star Wars” trailer that exhibitors will show in some locations.

Director J.J. Abrams confirmed the Nov. 28 release plans on Twitter Monday. Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Cinemark Holdings Inc. and Carmike Cinemas Inc. are among the chains that will run a clip of Walt Disney Co.’s “Stars Wars: The Force Awakens” over the long U.S. holiday weekend.

Anticipation around the trailer for the seventh film in the “Star Wars” franchise is the latest drip feeding of information about the picture, and it’s timed to exploit the Thursday-to-Sunday U.S. Thanksgiving break, a big weekend for films. In 1998, some movie fans bought tickets to a Brad Pitt feature, “Meet Joe Black,” only to see a trailer for “The Phantom Menace.”

“Trailers have always had this kind of hold on the fans,” said Robert Marich, who recounts the Pitt episode in his book “Marketing to Moviegoers.” “The fans, the geeks, the aficionados, they are trend setters, they’re plugged in online. They show up for trailers.”

The clip will be shown in 30 theaters, including Cineplex Inc. and Marcus Corp. locations, across North America starting Nov. 28, according to the official “Star Wars” movie website. The trailer will be available globally in December, it said.

The exhibitors plan to run the 88-second promo with every movie they’re showing at the participating locations.

Regal, the largest U.S. exhibitor, announced on its website Monday it would play the trailer in nine locations, according to trade reports, and then pulled the notice down.

The chain, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, didn’t respond to e-mail requests for comment.

“If you don’t see us tweeting for a while, a certain Wookiee pulled some certain arms out of their sockets,” the company said on its Twitter feed.

Later in the day, the company restored the site.

The efforts to build excitement around the new release with teasers tap into the growing importance of previews to a fanboy audience. A trailer for “Age of Ultron,” the new Disney/Marvel Avengers film, was recently leaked and has been seen almost 60 million times on YouTube.

Universal Pictures, part of Comcast Corp., released an online teaser for the new “Jurassic World” on Nov. 23 and planned to unveil a longer online trailer on Thanksgiving Day, according to an official Twitter feed for the film.

In an age of social media, trailers are often released online. The decision to unveil the “Star Wars” clip in theaters highlights the importance placed on the film by Burbank, California-based Disney.

The studio, which posted record profit for the year ended Sept. 27, ranks second in 2014 domestic box-office receipts behind 21st Century Fox Inc., with $1.46 billion in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. Its biggest domestic films this year have been “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” both from Marvel.

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest weekends for movie going. In 2013, receipts from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 totaled $208.1 million, led by “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” in its second week in theaters, according to Rentrak Corp.

Two films open in wide release Wednesday: DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s “Penguins of Madagascar,” distributed by Fox and “Horrible Bosses 2,” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.

“The Hunger Games: ”Mockingjay — Part 1,” which had the biggest opening of the year last weekend, will also be vying for film fans in its second weekend of release.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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