Please Don’t Pay $400 for Star Wars Tickets: Tales of the Force Awakens Ticketpocalypse

By  · Published on October 20th, 2015

Last night, legions of Star Wars fans gathered together to watch Monday Night Football. As you may have noticed if you were watching the situation unfold across the various channels of social media, they weren’t particularly happy about being forced to watch sports just to get a glimpse at the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

WATCH: The final Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer.

But under the less-than-happy veneer of fans waiting for halftime of an otherwise uninteresting game of NFL football, there was a darkness that had already begun to grow. A pall cast over the entirety of fandom. Just as advanced tickets for the most anticipated movie in years went on sale, it was clear that the world’s ticket-takers and their high-tech infrastructures were not ready. While the trailer eventually brought The Light to fans across the globe, The Dark Side appeared to be winning the war. These are the harrowing stories of The Star Wars Ticketpocalypse.

But first, some thoughts from social media on having to watch Monday Night Football to see the trailer, beginning with a message of hope from The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams:

#TheForceAwakens #MNF pic.twitter.com/yw6XvlpJNe

— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) October 20, 2015

New #StarWars trailer during Monday Night Football :-) #BillsMafia pic.twitter.com/QBuO8XPKb2 – Terrence A. McKelvey (@Terrence_CFP) October 19, 2015

Someone bring me the Venn diagram of Star Wars fans and Monday Night Football watchers…

— Faith E. Korpi (@faitherina) October 19, 2015

I’m going to have to watch football to see the new Star Wars trailer? What a cruel twist of fate. – philippe iujvidin (@philyuck) October 19, 2015

Those poor humans. At least their suffering was not in vain, as eventually, the trailer did play. But there was more suffering to be had for those who wanted to secure their tickets to the opening night of the century.

The Opening Crawl: London Servers Falling Down

Not long after tickets went on sale in the UK, the first country to come online, servers began to go down. According to a report by BBC, not since Benedict Cumberbatch starred in a one-night broadcast of Hamlet had the servers of companies such as Odeon and Picturehouse seen so much traffic. This led noted humorists across UK Twitter to take to social media to voice their displeasure:

The dark side has won. Half of england trying to book the @BFI for Star Wars causing the website to crash and them to suspend booking ???

— Jack O’Connell (@Jackdudeblue) October 19, 2015

Is “I’m sorry, I was trying to book Star Wars tickets but the Odeon site kept crashing” a valid excuse for being late for work? – Ailsa Scott (@ailsas) October 19, 2015

The Force is not strong with the Odeon website today. Took Yoda’s advice too literally they did; load or do not, there is no try. #StarWars

— Joel Tennant (@ThatTennantGuy) October 19, 2015

In the end, persistence won the day:

I didn’t abandon hope. The Force remained with me. Secured tickets after lunch. Midnight screening. Leicester Square Odeon. #TheForceAwakens – Stewart Gardiner (@StewartGardiner) October 19, 2015

Scary stuff, but it was only getting started. Because as we know, no one does unreasonable outrage like those of us in the United States of America…

The Revenge of the Servers

Not long before the Monday Night Football game began, ticket sales began to come online. Fans on Twitter began reporting notifications from services such as Fandango and MovieTickets.com saying that pre-orders were available. With great vigilance, fans began to browse to their ticket service or theater website of choice in droves. The result was catastrophic. Servers went down. Websites became unavailable. Outrage began to boil over.

star wars broke the internet harder than we even thought

— Loquaciousmuse (@loquaciousmuse) October 20, 2015

Wish i could buy star wars tickets…. :( – Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) October 20, 2015

It was pure chaos:

That time #TheForceAwakens broke the internet. pic.twitter.com/snbWnl2yc6

— Dustin Sandoval (@DustinMSandoval) October 20, 2015

The incident, which prompted many fans to spend far more time than expected working through web server errors to secure their tickets, prompted some theater chains to respond. “Last night, we had the single biggest simultaneous surge for movie tickets our industry has ever seen,” wrote Alamo CEO Tim League in a statement the next morning. “The great news is that Star Wars fandom is as strong as ever. Unfortunately, that surge exposed weaknesses in our ticketing infrastructure, and that of Fandango, Regal, AMC and Cinemark, not to mention other exhibitors across the globe who also crashed. But that is not a good enough excuse. The Alamo Drafthouse has been preparing for this hugely important day for the past nine months, and we thought we were ready. We spun up 40 simultaneous servers and were monitoring the load to instantaneously add more if needed. We hosted our static pages in a state-of-the-art cloud environment that could also instantaneously expand with demand. The massive onslaught of simultaneous users, however, exposed an unforeseen flaw in the ticketing infrastructure itself that we were unable to fix on the fly.”

“We tried to be ready for this hugely important day, and we missed the mark. In the moment, we tried to react as quickly as possible. We transitioned our sales to Fandango as soon as they were up and running again themselves. We apologize for making what was supposed to be a joyous day a big hassle for Star Wars fans. We commit to doing better in the future.”

Please Don’t Pay $400 for Star Wars Tickets

Shortly after tickets became scarce and frustrations began to mount, this happened:

We take a break from our tales of sorrow for an important public service announcement: Please don’t support this kind of behavior. Don’t bid on, buy or in any way support people gratuitously scalping tickets for something like Star Wars. I understand that it’s important that you see the movie, but remember that this is just a movie and it’s going to be in theaters for a while. Just because you didn’t get tickets for opening night, that doesn’t mean that you should encourage this kind of price gouging behavior. This is why everyone hates that guy who cranked up the prices of an important AIDS drug by 5,000%. This sort of behavior is not capitalism, it’s extortion. Paying these people only encourages more of this in the future. Don’t do it.

Now back to our tales of frustration and anger, still in progress.

The Internet Strikes Back

Later in the evening, as things began to calm down a bit, movie ticket servers began to come back online. With the trailer coming online, Star Wars fans began to focus their energy and attention on the optimism that exists in the future. Because even though ticketing was a frustration, the movie will eventually come out and everyone who wants to see it will have ample chance to do so. The Internet returned to its state of bliss over the Star Wars phenomenon, but not without one parting shot. A GoFundMe campaign was started by Nick Robinson, a noted internet jester, to help provide relief to those affected by the Star Wars ticketing debacle.

“Donations given will be used to build emergency movie theaters, rushed construction just in time so that legions of 40-year-old men can see the movie WHEN they want to and not one day later. Donations will also be used to purchase tickets from scalpers to provide to fans in need – additionally, we will seek to identify people with tickets who are not TRUE fans – if they cannot identify if a language is in Jawa or Tusken Raider, then we will give them an offer they cannot refuse to make sure a true Star Wars fan will be able to see it in ideal conditions,” wrote Robinson on the GoFundMe campaign mission statement. “Please help. Every second that goes by, another grown man is denied his right – his right to see the movie in the exact place he wants, at just the right time.”

As of this writing, the campaign has raised $5.

And then there was the Star Wars cast, who took to social media to show their own very emotional reactions to the trailer, thus taking the final wind out of the sails of disillusionment. First was actress Daisy Ridley:

Staying in a little b’n’b with my friend… Set an alarm to watch the trailer… My friend filmed my reaction. Totally emotional seeing it for the first time and so so so incredibly awed to be part of this incredible legacy #starwars #theforceawakens A video posted by @daisyridley on Oct 19, 2015 at 8:06pm PDT

Then came the film’s other young star, John Boyega:

THE TRAILER IS JUST EEEEPPPPPPPIIIIICCCCCCC! Star Wars is back! gaaaaaad laaaaard! You know what! Let me just relax because this kind God oooo! Lmao! Seriously congrats to everyone ! December 18th!

A video posted by @john_boyega on Oct 20, 2015 at 12:02am PDT

As you can see, even though much of the night was plagued by The Dark Side, it was the emissaries of The Light who got the adorable last words.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters December 18. If you don’t already have tickets for opening night, you may already be out of luck. If you are still searching, then May The Force Be With You.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the upcoming One Perfect Shot TV show (HBO Max, 2021) and the co-host of The Storm: A LOST Rewatch podcast. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)