Norfolk cinemas report ‘unprecedented’ bookings for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford)..Ph: Fil

Star Wars: The Force Awakens..L to R: Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford)..Ph: Film Frame..?Lucasfilm 2015 - Credit: Lucasfilm 2015

The wait is finally over; in just a few hours, a new Star Wars film hits the big screen for the first time in a decade.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens opens in cinemas on Thursday, with cinemas anticipating record-breaking admissions.

Thousands of people across the region have already booked their seats to see the newest addition to the franchise, with the film already breaking pre-booking records at one cinema chain.

Mary Wisbey, general manager of Odeon Norwich, said: 'We've seen an unprecedented level of bookings. Excitement has never been higher.'

Ashley Walker, general manager of Vue Cinema, Norwich, said: 'We're expecting admissions to double and have even had to draft in extra staff to support us ahead of the release.'

Cinema City, on St Andrew's Street, in the city, also anticipate a busy few weeks; its first screening is sold out, and it has already taken around 3,000 pre-bookings.

Manager, Jack Thompson, said: 'We expect all of our showings in the first two weeks to sell out, much like what happened with Spectre. We're going to be busy.'

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Trevor Wicks, director of Hollywood Cinemas, and an industry veteran, however, is unfazed.

Mr Wicks, who has worked in cinema for more than 30 years, said: 'I'm not expecting this release to be any different to any other big release.

'It's an event movie, but we're not getting carried away. Of course we will be busy, but we will be treating it just like any other major release.'

Mr Wicks compared the release to major events of the past, citing the original Star Wars film and Jaws as examples, insisting this will pale in comparison,

He said: 'The film industry has changed and across the different cinemas in Norwich it is being shown around 50 times a day, so I don't think people will have any difficulties getting to see it. I remember people queueing around the block to see Jaws at the old ABC cinema. That was busy.'

Meanwhile, fans planning to attend the screenings in full costume have been advised to think of others when choosing their costumes, encouraging masks to be taken off in the cinema and blasters and light sabers to be left at home.

An Odeon spokesman said: 'We ask all our guests to be sensible about bringing props as we are in a public space – please leave anything that looks like a realistic gun or blade at home.'

A Vue spokesman added: 'Costumes are welcome when attending the cinema, providing that consideration is taken for other members of the audience. For example, no oversized costumes or items which might offend a family audience.'

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