The Force is calling to moviegoers, and they are ready to let it in.
“Star Wars” mania reached another high Monday as fans overwhelmed cinema websites selling advance tickets for the next installment in the beloved intergalactic saga and the latest trailer for the film instantly went viral.
The huge demand from eager fans in the United States and Britain seeking to secure their seats for the premiere of “The Force Awakens” — which hits US screens on December 18 — led to site crashes and loading issues.
“Certain cinemas are being overwhelmed with requests,” said Odeon, a leading cinema chain in Britain. “The website has taken a battering today.
“We’re trying to fix the problem as quickly as possible. Please bear with us as we summon the Force.”
US sites Fandango and MovieTickets.com also experienced problems as fans rushed to snap up tickets.
Vue Cinemas in Britain said Jedi fans snapped up 10,000 tickets in the first 90 minutes of tickets going on sale.
“Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” is one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year, and the first in the series in a decade.
The trailer, which premiered during Monday Night Football on Disney-owned ESPN, quickly set Twitter and other social media sites alight.
The preview — which runs nearly two minutes and a half — features black-clad villain Kylo Ren looking at a crushed mask of Darth Vader and vowing: “Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.”
Epic battle scenes erupt on a desert planet.
It ends with a female voice — possibly Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who appears for the first time in this trailer — saying, “The Force is calling to you. Just let it in.”
Disney had previously released two “teaser” trailers for the film and on Sunday released the poster.
“The Force Awakens” takes place 30 years after “Return of the Jedi”.
The new film will feature some new faces but also several members of the cast of the original trilogy, including Fisher, Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker).
The two beloved droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, will also be back, as will Chewbacca, or “Chewie”, Han Solo’s co-pilot.
The absence of Skywalker from the movie’s poster has fueled speculation as to what his role will be in the new movie. Many on Twitter on Monday speculated that he was a cloaked figure seen in the trailer touching R2-D2.
Walt Disney Company bought the rights to the Star Wars saga created by George Lucas when it bought Lucasfilm Ltd three years ago.
The company has launched a mega marketing campaign ahead of the film’s opening, teaming up with toy manufacturers to build up the hype. Analysts expect “Star Wars” related merchandise sales to reach up to $5 billion this year.
Super fans of the saga will also be able to book tickets for marathon viewing of the first six installments in the series before Episode VII.