'Sith' Draws $16.5M at Midnight

by Brandon Gray
May 19, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith drew an estimated $16.5 million from midnight showings alone on its opening day, according to 20th Century Fox. The early figure stands as the biggest midnight launch on record.

"There are a lot of absentees today," Bruce Snyder, Fox's head of distribution, quipped to Box Office Mojo, referring to those who skipped work and school to see Star Wars. "Lots of people went through the turnstiles last night, and the matinees right now are fabulous. There's a very good chance of breaking the single day record."

Approximately 2,900 of Revenge of the Sith's 3,661 theaters showed the motion picture at midnight, with those 3,661 venues receiving over 9,000 prints, making the movie one of the most highly circulated releases of all time. The previous Star Wars episode, Attack of the Clones, which also opened on a Thursday, earned $6.2 million during its premiere midnight showing in over 1,400 theaters in 2002. That contributed to a then record weekday gross of $30.1 million.

Last May's Shrek 2 holds the single day record with $44.8 million at 4,163 theaters on its fourth day of release (a Saturday), while Spider-Man 2 is the current opening day champ with $40.4 million at 4,152 theaters. Because the midnight showings, though perceived by many as occurring on Wednesday night, were actually shown on Thursday, May 19, they will be counted towards Revenge of the Sith's opening day gross.

Among other recent event pictures, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King rang up $8 million at about 2,100 theaters on its opening midnight in 2003, which led to a $34.5 million first day. In 2002, Spider-Man did around $7 million on its way to a then record $39.4 million opening day.

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