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Disney's Star Wars to Take Over IMAX Screens for a Month

As per sources, The Walt Disney Company DIS has entered into a tie up with IMAX Corporation IMAX to release the latest movie of the widely popular Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on all IMAX screens across North America for a four week-long period, from the time of its release on Dec 18.

Moreover, most of the overseas IMAX locations will be screening The Force Awakens for a month. Earlier, IMAX struck a similar agreement with Time Warner Inc. TWX for The Hobbit trilogy. There are about 385-400 of these large format screens in North America and over 400 screens in overseas territories.  

Also, trade analysts have pointed out that IMAX has not announced any bookings for January until The Finest Hours on Jan 29, which implies that the Star Wars domination is likely to stretch beyond the month long schedule if the stint proves profitable (likely to be the case).

Analysts estimate that The Force Awakens will earn over $650—$700 million domestically while global collections are likely to range between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion. Further, the movie will most probably topple Comcast Corporation’s CMCSA Jurassic World’s IMAX’s record of $44.1 million for 3-D screenings.

The deal is likely to impact the business of other big budget November releases like Spectre and Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 that will have to make way for Star Wars in December. Apart from this, another credible December release, In the Heart of Sea will get about a week at IMAX theatres while The Revenant, which is set to release on Jan 8, will have to wait until Jan 18.   

Star Wars is returning to theatres after a decade. It is the seventh instalment of the incredibly popular Star Wars franchise. The Force Awakens picks up 30 years after Star Wars: The Return of Jedi.

From word of mouth to digital releases of all the earlier movies, as well as launching associated merchandise and incorporating the Star Wars universe in the latest version of its video game Disney Infinity 3.0, Disney is leaving no stone unturned to generate massive pre-release publicity for the film.

As the iconic space saga is 40 years old, the current generation might not be aware of the cult status it achieved. Hence, the company has resorted to aggressive marketing. Given Disney’s unparallel marketing ability and Star Wars’ popularity, The Force Awakens is undoubtedly the most awaited release given the movie’s trailers were viewed unprecedented number of times.

Yesterday, Disney announced the first of its kind toy unboxing event for Star Wars merchandise. On Sep, 3, 2015, the company in collaboration with YouTube will unveil the products online for about 18 hours in 15 cities across 12 countries starting with Sydney, Australia and ending with San Francisco, U.S. The event will feature some top digital stars from the Maker Studios network. The company will start selling the merchandise on Sep 4, which is being dubbed as Force Friday.

At present, Disney carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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