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<i>Star Wars</i> absolutely crushed movie ticket websites

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 20

Popular movie ticket sales websites, including Fandango and Movietickets.com, crashed briefly Monday evening shortly after beginning ticket sales for the upcoming Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

The movie opens Dec. 18, but Star Wars fans flooded the two sites to snap up tickets, Bloomberg reports. Earlier on Monday, a British theater chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group said that it experienced record demand for online ticket sales for the movie. And before Movetickets.com appeared to succumb to overwhelming interest, The Force Awakens had already become its number-one seller, accounting for 44% of total ticket sales in the past 24 hours.

“Fandango traffic surged to 7 times its typical peak levels, propelling Fandango’s advance sales for ‘Star Wars’ to a record-setting first day of pre-sales,” Fandango said in a statement. “For ‘Star Wars,’ we have already sold 8 times as many tickets as we did on the first day of sales for the previous record holder.” The company’s first-day presales record was previously held by “The Hunger Games,” the first movie in the eponymous series.

Analysts are already predicting that the new Star Wars installment will be one of the top-grossing box office hits ever. Benjamin Swinburne at Morgan Stanley said in June that he expected the movie to bring in $650 million in the United States and nearly $2 billion globally for Walt Disney Co., which bought Lucasfilm in 2012, according to Fortune.

If Swinburne is right, Star Wars would take the bronze for top-grossing movies globally, placing after Avatar, which has grossed more than $2.78 billion to date, and Titanic, which netted $2.18 billion. Of course, that isn’t accounting for merchandise sales, expected to be well into the billions of dollars.