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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Star Wars US debuts take $16.5m
Revenge of the Sith queue
Many fans dressed as Star Wars characters to queue for screenings
Midnight screenings of the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, have taken an estimated $16.5m (9m) in North America.

The film was shown in 2,900 debut screenings in the US on Thursday.

It doubled the box office takings of Oscar-winning film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King during midnight showings in 2003.

The movie was also leaked on to an internet file-sharing network just hours after it opened in cinemas.

'Extremely impressive'

Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations, described the midnight screening takings as "extremely impressive".

"It just says so much about how excited people are to see this film that they lined up at midnight and just got on board and went along for the ride," he said.

In the US and UK, fans queued to be the first to see Revenge of the Sith at screenings at one minute past midnight on Thursday, many dressed in full Star Wars regalia and sporting Jedi light sabers.

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Pirate copies of Revenge of The Sith have appeared on the internet
By Friday the film was due to be screened in more than 100 countries, described as the widest simultaneous global movie release of all time by industry publication Screen Daily.

The film sold a record number of advance tickets in North America and several other countries, analysts have said.

It is the last instalment in George Lucas' six-film, 27-year saga, chronicling Anakin Skywalker's transformation from hero to villain Darth Vader.

It was the first Star Wars movie to receive a cautionary PG-13 rating in the US due to its "sci-fi violence" and "intense images".

A "work print copy" of Revenge of the Sith was leaked onto an internet file-sharing network on Thursday.

The third Lord of the Rings film took $8m (4.35m) in the US from 2,100 midnight screenings in 2003.

See a clip of a cinema advert that warns against piracy


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