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Lots of films have staggered release dates, and there are lots of reasons for this, whether it's fitting in with seasons or other releases, country of origin, expected interest, and so on.

However, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a US film (in so much as any film is), it's likely to be in the top three grossing films of all time (up to now), and the modern world is full of spoilers that pay no attention to country of origin (e.g. no Twitter during Empire's famous reveal).

Why is the US release datetime over a day later than so many other locations?

(It was released in a lot of countries on the 16th, most countries by the 17th, and the US and Canada on the 18th. Hardly anyone (China, Pakistan) get it later than this).

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    Not sure this is on topic here. – CandiedMango Dec 17 '15 at 6:13
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    I'd say this is more on-topic on Movies. But that doesn't mean we should turn it away. – PointlessSpike Dec 17 '15 at 8:51
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    Isn't this simply due to the fact that different countries have different default days of the week for releasing new films? For example in Germany it's usually thursdays which is why we get it on 17th, while I guess in the US it's usally fridays which makes it 18th. I've seen such 1-2 days offsets for millions of past releases and never wondered about it. – TARS Dec 17 '15 at 9:38
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    Agreeing with @TARS. I am in Germany, and we also get other movies a day early because Thursday is the traditional day for new programs here. There is nothing special going on here. – YviDe Dec 17 '15 at 10:08
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    Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a US film” — er... it was kinda made over here in the UK, thank you very much. – Paul D. Waite Dec 17 '15 at 11:40
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The day of the week on which films traditionally open in cinemas is different between countries. That's Friday for the US and Canada but Thursday for most other countries.

If you want to release a film globally at the same time, you basically have two options:

  • pick a date and use that globally, even if it does not fit the schedule of many cinemas worldwide (which still means some staggering due to different time zones), or
  • pick different dates that fit the local schedules but that are as close together as possible.

For some reason, Disney went with the second option. Which means that countries where films open on Friday get it one day later than countries where films open on Thursday.

  • This is really the most correct and concise answer. It's as simple as that! – Fattie Dec 28 '15 at 16:03
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Release dates are often staggered like that a, as you already mentioned. Rarely are exceptions made to it - I looked at three pretty big recent movies and didn't find any. For example, looking at the release dates of Avengers: The Age of Ultron, you can see that the US got it more than a week later than some other countries, other than the premiere. With Ant-Man, it was a day or two, same with the last Harry Potter, which was also expected to be a big box office success (and was one)

Different countries have different traditional days on which cinemas change their programs. For example, in Germany, it is Thursday. Hence, Germany gets the movie on a Thursday. You can see that in the release dates above - lots of countries getting movies on a Thursday (including Germany), then the countries that start their program on Fridays, then the ones with a Saturday start. The movie being expected to have a big success does not appear to have any influence on this - I'd assume cinema managers don't expect people to take their business to neighboring countries just because they want to watch a movie a day or two early.

With things like advance previews and midnight showings, these concepts are getting a bit eroded, though. There are people in the US who can watch the movie before the official release, as far as I know.

  • I saw it in the US on the evening of the 17th, so ... – user8693 Dec 23 '15 at 20:45

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