Star Wars fans packed Illinois theatre for opening night

By Ryne Turke on December 18, 2015 at 5:30am

After a decade of anticipation, Star Wars has finally returned to the big screen.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuted nationwide Thursday night, is the first film in the upcoming Star Wars sequel trilogy from Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Force Awakens is already being shown in more than 4,100 theaters, a record for the month of December.

Illinois Theatre provided two screenings of the film last night for fans in Jacksonville.

Manager Brenda Christian says over 150 pre-sale tickets were purchased for opening night and she hopes the big crowds continue to roll into the Illinois Theatre.

“Well we are hoping it will be the number one movie of the year,” Christian said.

Reporter: “Have you had Star Wars movies at the Illinois Theatre before?”

“Yes. In fact we have had all the Star Wars movies,” noted Christian.

Reporter: “What have those experiences been like?”

“Packed,” chuckled Christian. is forecasting the first weekend of ticket sales in the United States and Canada will generate $223 million. That would dethrone Jurassic World’s current debut weekend record of $208.8 million, which took place in June.

The last film in the Star Wars series, Revenge of the Sith, brought in a total domestic gross of more than $380 million.

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