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Cinemas swamped as Star Wars fever grips Northern Ireland

Tickets for premiere sell in their thousands

By Allan Preston

Published 16/12/2015

Actor Harrison Ford (left) and director JJ Abrams after the premiere in Hollywood
Actor Harrison Ford (left) and director JJ Abrams after the premiere in Hollywood
Actress Gwendoline Christie
Ronan O'Donnell (39) and Loretta (2)
Colin James (47)
Chris Fawcett (30)

Star Wars fanatics across Northern Ireland are desperately counting down the hours until midnight to see what's expected to become the highest-grossing film in cinema history.

Tens of thousands of tickets have already been bought and local cinemas have had to add extra midnight screenings after selling out. It's expected that thousands of Star Wars geeks will flood pavements dressed in character to see the new instalment of the beloved franchise. Managing director of Movie House Cinemas, Michael McAdam, said ticket sales were "unprecedented".

"This is going to be a real experience and movie fans will want to see it on the big screen and they want to see it as soon as it's out," he said.

Six midnight showings are planned for the Dublin Road Movie House cinema alone, along with three at the Cityside complex and two in Coleraine.

Mr McAdam said: "We are using our biggest screens to give the best experience to customers and to try to keep up with demand, we will continually programme in additional screenings. All of the showings will take place just minutes after midnight ensuring people who want to see the movie get the opportunity."

Omniplex cinemas have also had to add extra midnight screenings at six of their cinemas after selling out.

The chain is holding 106 screenings in Northern Ireland on Thursday alone and said that 30,000 tickets had already been sold across Ireland.

"It's going bonkers," spokesman Simon Palmer said. "We're showing it in 200 screens across Ireland. It's gonna be a busy night. It started off crazy, but the press screenings and premieres have given it an extra buzz."

Odeon said it is planning to hold 5,000 screenings of the blockbuster across the UK and Ireland during its opening weekend. The first sell-out shows are to start simultaneously in 113 Odeon cinemas nationwide at 12.01am on Thursday.

Duncan Reynolds, managing director of Odeon UK & Ireland, said it is poised for a "24-hour operation" and has recruited 500 extra staff.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actress Gwendoline Christie attends the World Premiere of ?Star Wars: The Force Awakens? at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)***BESTPIX***
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actress Gwendoline Christie attends the World Premiere of ?Star Wars: The Force Awakens? at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)***BESTPIX***
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters). Actress Sofia Vergara arrives at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters) Stormtrooers arrive at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters) Stormtrooers arrive at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters) Actor John Boyega arrives at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters). Actor Max von Sydow attends The Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters). Director George Lucas arrives at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters) Directors George Lucas and J.J. Abrams attend The Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Fans dressed in character wait in the stands at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (Editors Note: Image altered using digital filters) Directors George Lucas and J.J. Abrams attend The Premiere Of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Mellody Hobson, left, and George Lucas arrive at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Fans cheer in the stands at world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Gwendoline Christie arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. Christie plays the role of Captain Phasma in the film. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Daisy Ridley arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. Ridley plays the role of Rey in the film. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actors Carrie Fisher and Billie Lourd arrive at The Premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actors John Boyega (L) and Chadwick Boseman attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actors John Boyega (L) and Oscar Isaac attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Harrison Ford (L) and director J.J. Abrams attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Harrison Ford (L) and director J.J. Abrams attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actors Daisy Ridley (L) and Billie Lourd attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Producer Kathleen Kennedy (L) and actress Daisy Ridley attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger (L) and actor Harrison Ford attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actors David Oyelowo (L) and Lupita Nyong'o attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
French lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti poses next to a person wearing a Darth Vader (Dark Vador) costume during the "Darth Vader's trial" event at the Grand Rex movie theatre in Paris, on December 14, 2015, two days ahead of the premiere screening of the widely-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
French lawyers Eric Dupond-Moretti (C) and Antoine Vey (R) sit next to a person wearing a Darth Vader (Dark Vador) costume during the "Darth Vader's trial" event at the Grand Rex movie theatre in Paris, on December 14, 2015, two days ahead of the premiere screening of the widely-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
French lawyers Eric Dupond-Moretti (2ndL) and Antoine Vey (C) listen to fellow lawyer Patrice Spinosi (R) as they sit next to a person wearing a Darth Vader (Dark Vador) costume during the "Darth Vader's trial" event at the Grand Rex movie theatre in Paris, on December 14, 2015, two days ahead of the premiere screening of the widely-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
A person wearing a "stormtrooper" costume stands in the Grand Rex movie theatre during the "Darth Vader's trial" event in Paris, on December 14, 2015, two days ahead of the premiere screening of the widely-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. / AFP / THOMAS SAMSONTHOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Sofia Vergara, left, and Joe Manganiello arrive at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
This photo provided by Disney/Lucasfilm shows stormtroopers in a scene from the new film, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." The movie releases in the U.S. on Dec. 18, 2015. (Film Frame/Lucasfilm via AP)
Director J.J. Abrams, left, and Katie McGrath arrive at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Carrie Fisher, left, and daughter Billie Lourd arrive at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Anthony Daniels arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. Daniels plays the role of C-3PO. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Daisy Ridley arrives at the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. Ridley plays the role of Rey in the film. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
People watch a display screen showing the red carpet arrivals outside a large white tent lining Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere of the latest Star Wars film, 'The Force Awakens' in Hollywood, California on December 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
People watch from behind police barricades and closure of streets on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California as preparations take place for the premiere of the latest Star Wars film, "The Force Awakens", which premieres in Hollywood tonight. PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Gerrard Christian Zacher, dressed in a Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot outfit, displays the helmet for a camera crew on hand to interview fans, among a group of over 100 people, who are free to come and go with their names on a list and tickets in their possession, for the December 17 opening of the new Star wars film "The Force Awakens" on December 8, 2015. Some have been camped out for three nights in front of the TCL Theater along Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Bystanders watch as a person dressed in a Chewbacca costume walks near where fans have been congregating at the plaza in front of the TCL Theater in Hollywood, California on December 10, 2015, where over 100 fans with tickets in their possession and some camped out for the past three or four nights, have been gathering in anticipation for the new film, 'The Force Awakens', which opens on December 17. Excitement over the latest "Star Wars" movie is building to fever pitch as fans literally count the days, hours and minutes before the latest installment of the space saga hits screens. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Caroline Ritter (C-green hair) and other Star Wars fans hold their place in line behind a barricade along Hollywood Boulevard as preparations are underway for the premiere later tonight of the latest Star Wars film, "The Force Awakens." Ritter and her partner Andrew Porters, who have been camped outside the TCL Theater since December 5, will get married in the queue on December 17 when the film opens to the public in theaters. Ritter and Porter travelled to Los Angeles from their home in Singleton, Hunter Valley in new South Wales, Australia. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Road closures and security check points surround the large white tent lining Hollywood Boulevard amid continuing preparations for the tonight's Premiere of the latest Star Wars film, "The Force Awakens", on December 14, 2015 Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
A couple poses for a selfie in front of a display screen outside a large white tent lining along Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere of the latest Star Wars film, 'The Force Awakens' in Hollywood, California on December 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
A woman rushes past a store selling Star Wars merchandise along Hollywood Boulevard for the premiere of the latest Star Wars film, 'The Force Awakens' in Hollywood, California on December 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
General view of the set up at the World Premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in Hollywood, California, on December 14, 2015.AFP PHOTO /VALERIE MACONVALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Harrison Ford attends the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been shot in black and white. Color version not available.) Actors Harrison Ford (L) and Mark Hamill attend the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the Dolby, El Capitan, and TCL Theatres on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney)
Actors Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart attend the World Premiere of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", in Hollywood, California, on December 14, 2015.AFP PHOTO /VALERIE MACONVALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor Harrison Ford (L) and director J.J. Abrams attend the after party for the World Premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Hollywood Blvd on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actress Daisy Ridley attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the Dolby Theatre on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actor John Boyega attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the Dolby Theatre on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Star Wars promotional posters are setup in Leicester Square ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 14: Actress Daisy Ridley attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the Dolby Theatre on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A fan wearing a Star Wars themed Christmas jumper arrives in Leicester Square to collect his fan pass ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Star Wars promotional posters are setup in Leicester Square ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Star Wars promotional posters are setup in Leicester Square ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A fan wearing a Star Wars themed Christmas jumper arrives in Leicester Square to collect his fan pass ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Star Wars promotional posters are setup in Leicester Square ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: A fan wearing a Star Wars themed Christmas jumper arrives in Leicester Square to collect his fan pass ahead of the European film premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by . J. Abrams. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
A man wears a Star Wars character "Kylo Ren" outfit during a party in downtown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
A man wears a Star Wars character "Kylo Ren" outfit during a party in downtown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
A man wears a Star Wars character "Leia Organa" outfit during a party in downtown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Party-goers wear Star Wars movie characters outfits during a party in owntown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
A party-goer wears a Star Wars movie character's outfit during a party in owntown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Party-goers wear Star Wars movie character's outfits during a party in owntown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
A party-goer wears a Star Wars movie character's outfit during a party in owntown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Party-goers wear Star Wars movie stormtroopers characters' outfits during a party in owntown Rome on December 15, 2015 on the eve of the premiere of the Disney movie. The latest installment of the Star Wars series opens in cinemas in France, Italy and other European countries at the start of a global rollout of the film, whose plot has been kept under wraps by producers Disney. / AFP / FILIPPO MONTEFORTEFILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 15: Following the world premiere in Hollywood of Lucasfilms "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", the film's stars were joined by J.J. Abrams and producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for a chartered flight from Los Angeles to the London premiere of the movie on a custom, one of a kind, specially themed R2-D2 ANA JET. Earlier at the premiere, stars posed for photos with a scale model of ANAs BB-8-themed ANA JET. ANA, Japans largest airline, has designed three Star Wars-themed jets in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The R2-D2 ANA JET is the first ever aircraft in the world to feature a Star Wars character on its exterior and is a product of an agreement between ANA and The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. First unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this year, the R2-D2 ANA JET, a Boeing 787-9, started its regular flight in October and now flies to various destinations, including Europe, Asia, China and the U.S. December 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15: Preperations for the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" European premiere in Leicester Square on December 15, 2015 in London, England. The film, starring members of the original cast including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, is the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise and is directed by J.J. Abrams. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/Getty Images)
A Stars Wars fan holds "light sabres" as he poses for a photograph as he waits for a screening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", at the Kinepolis cinema in Liege, on December 16, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS / AFP / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images
A fan wears Star Wars slippers as he arrives at the Australian premier of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Sydney on December 16, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on December 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKSPETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
A young fan dressed as a Star Wars character arrives at the Australian premier of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Sydney on December 16, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on December 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKSPETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
A young fan dressed as a Star Wars character arrives at the Australian premier of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Sydney on December 16, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on December 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKSPETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
A fan dressed as a Star Wars character arrives at the Australian premier of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Sydney on December 16, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on December 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKSPETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images
A fan dressed as a Star Wars character arrives at the Australian premier of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' in Sydney on December 16, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the general public on December 17, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKSPETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

"We expect it to become the biggest film of all time, and (it) promises to be a landmark cinematic event," he said. The chain expects "tens of thousands" to fill seats across the country when screenings begin just hours after the stars attend the UK premiere in Leicester Square, London tonight.

Excitement is likely to grow after glowing early reviews from critics.

Adam B Vary, a reporter for Buzzfeed, tweeted: "Rest easy: The Force Awakens is 100% Star Wars, and something new. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac: welcome."

Rebecca Keegan, a film writer for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: "Story, characters, design, humour - Star Wars fans, this is the movie you're looking for."

She also reported that women were well represented in the film, which stars British actresses Daisy Ridley and Gwendoline Christie, as well as Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o. Documentary director Brett Morgen, best known for Montage of Heck about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, wrote: "Force Awakens might be the best blockbuster since the original."

Ronan O'Donnell (39) and Loretta (2) 'Mum gave my toys to a jumble sale'

I've been a fan ever since I saw Return of the Jedi in the cinema in 1983. I made my poor father go back with me three times. Even now I've got a picture of me at seven years old in my room and it's just Star Wars posters and every toy that my pocket money could afford. It's a sore subject now in our house because my mum took all of them away and gave them away to a jumble sale. My daughter Loretta (2) has watched the original trilogy with me in the last couple of weeks. She must have watched them all about twice now and in the evenings she just shouts out for Chewbacca.

Colin Craig (47) 'My dad took me... I'll be thinking of him when I see the new one'

I'm going to see it at one minute past 12. For a 47-year-old man, I'm really excited. I was brought up in a Presbyterian background in the '70s - it was quite strict. My dad checked the paper and saw Star Wars was on in the Iveagh cinema. He got the three kids into the car and away we went to see Star Wars. He wouldn't have done that sort of thing usually. My dad is dead now, so with the new film there's a reconnection in my head. That was different - it was really special. I think I'll be thinking of my dad tomorrow night. I'll always have that connection, that this is something my dad did for me.

Chris Fawcett (30) 'I feel a mixture of excitement and dread in case it's no good'

I remember watching Star Wars for the first time when I was about three or four years old. I have a lot of the old toys and ships up in the attic. The Millennium Falcon was always the talking point. I'm really excited but at the same time apprehensive, considering the last few weren't brilliant. I'm going to the midnight screening in Enniskillen with friends. One of them hasn't seen any of them and doesn't really care, but when I get to the cinema I'm either going to be excited or filled with dread, I don't know which. It won't be quite as good as the old films, but if it's just very good I'll be happy enough.

Belfast Telegraph

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