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[NEW YORK] An Australian couple got married on Thursday as they waited in line for the first US public showings of Star Wars; The Force Awakens, while movie theaters around the country held marathons of the previous films in the franchise.
Caroline Ritter, 34, a truck driver, and firefighter Andrew Porters, 29, were among about 100 die-hard fans who camped outside Hollywood's Chinese Theatre since Dec 5 for the opening of The Force Awakens. Ms Ritter was walked down the aisle by another fan, dressed as Darth Vader, and a violinist played the Star Wars theme music as the couple exchanged vows. They plan to celebrate by seeing the movie afterward.
Online ticket seller Fandango said on Thursday that the new movie, which has received glowing reviews, has already broken its record for the most tickets sold for any film's entire theatrical run.
"The extraordinary ticketing demand is truly unprecedented. It is Fandango's top-selling movie of all time, even before it has even hit theater screens," said Fandango President Paul Yanover.
But movie studio Walt Disney Co says millions of tickets are still available this weekend as theatres add capacity to meet demand.
In San Antonio, Texas, several dozen fans stood in line at dawn on Thursday to watch a 16-hour marathon of the first six movies in the Star Wars franchise to set the mood for seeing The Force Awakens later in the day. "I think I was like, 2, when I first saw A New Hope, which is Episode Four, and I just fell in love with the movies," said Matt Kelly, who recalls his father playing the early Star Wars films for him on videocassette back in the 1990s.
Matt Shavers, who was among the San Antonio fans, compared Star Wars to going to church. "Part of it is like the mythology of it, the religious aspect of it. The storytelling is so amazing. It's gorgeous. It's the greatest saga ever written," he said.
Although The Force Awakens has several strong female characters and marketing for the movie has been directed at women more than ever, some 68 per cent of those buying tickets in advance are male and the majority are people over the age of 30, according to data from Movietickets.com.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to take some US$200 million at the North American box office over its opening weekend, according to box office analysts, making it one of the biggest openings of all time.