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2:19 PM Sat, July 21st

Star Wars pre-release tickets set records

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" isn't going to hit theaters until mid-December. However, the latest trailer for it dropped this past week, Oct. 19, with tickets going on sale immediately after, effectively crashing presale websites Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com.

And it's already breaking records, according to Variety, which reports the film bypassed by eight times "The Hunger Games" to sell the most tickets on the first day available. Further, it broke the record the IMAX record for presales, selling more than $6.5 million, beating the $1 million made by such films as "The Dark Knight Rises," and "Avengers." The film itself has an estimated budget of $200 million.

But how does this compare to previous Star Wars films?

The following is based on data on the Internet Movie Database and BoxOfficeMojo.com:

• "Star Wars: A New Hope" - The first film in the franchise, it was expected to flop and had an estimated budget of $11 million. Opening in only 43 theaters, it grossed $1.5 million its opening weekend in 1977. However, it eventually grew to 1,096 theaters at its height, grossing $775.4 million, becoming the first film to make over $300 million, according to IMDB. The 1997 Special Edition rerelease started at 2,104 theaters, which became 2,200 at its height and eventually grossed $579.6 million. This film, adjusted for inflation, is the second highest-grossing film of all time, following "Gone with the Wind."

• "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" had an estimated budget of $18 million and opened at 126 theaters, grossing $4.9 million its opening weekend in 1980. Eventually, it was shown at 1,278 theaters and grossed $538.4 million worldwide. It was the first film to have a 5.1 surround sound mix.

• "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" had an estimated budget of $32.5 million and opened at 1,002 theaters, grossing $23 million its opening weekend in 1983, the first film to gross more than $20 million on opening weekend. Eventually it was shown at 1,764 theaters and grossed $475 million worldwide. It was the first film to use THX surround sound.

• "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" had an estimated budget of $115 million and opened at 2,970 theaters, grossing $64.8 million its opening weekend in 1999. At its height, it was shown at 3,126 theaters and grossed $1.027 billion worldwide. During the first week of the trailer's release, many theaters reported up to 75 percent of audiences paying full price for a movie and walking out after the trailer. It was the first film to be mixed in Dolby Digital Surround EX sound.

• "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" - It had an estimated budget of $115 million and opened at 3,161 theaters, grossing $80 million its opening weekend in 2002. It grossed $649.4 million worldwide.

• "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" had an estimated budget of $113 million and opened at 3,661 theaters, grossing $108.4 million in 2005. At its height, it was shown at 3,663 theaters and grossed $848.8 million worldwide.

• "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" opens Friday, Dec. 18 at Harkins Theatres, 7202 Pav Way, and at Picture Show, 1771 Highway 69. Tickets are available online at www.fandango.com, www.movietickets.com, www.harkinstheatres.com and www.pictureshowent.com or at the box office at both theaters.

Follow reporter Jason Wheeler on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.