'Clones' Attack Earth May 1614 Nov, 2001 By: Staff Reporter
The Force is drawing closer: 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm have said Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones will open Thursday, May 16, in the United States and Canada.
The announcement was made Tuesday on Lucasfilm's Starwars.com Web site, accompanied by a list of anticipated worldwide release dates, the majority of which are May 16 or 17. "It's as close to a worldwide simultaneous release as I have seen," Fox president of domestic distribution Bruce Snyder said.
Although a Thursday opening date is fairly unusual in North America, Snyder said that in many countries, Thursday is the day of choice for releasing films. "In order to make it simultaneous, we decided to do the same in the U.S. and Canada," Snyder said.
The announcement also said that a full teaser trailer for Attack of the Clones, featuring unseen footage, will play with Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone beginning Friday.
Before the announcement, many industry observers had expected the release to take place during the week preceding Memorial Day, which falls on May 27.
Snyder said May has proved to be a lucrative box office period the past several years, allowing films to get a jump on the summer season, which officially begins Memorial Day weekend.
The first film in the Star Wars prequel series, Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace, also had its debut in mid-May. Phantom Menace debuted Wednesday, May 19, 1999, to a record-shattering $28.5 million, the biggest single-day gross in box office history.
During its first weekend in theaters, Phantom Menace racked up a sensational $64.8 million and had taken in $105.7 million during its first five days -- an all-time record. It went on to collect $66.9 million the following weekend, which was the four-day Memorial Day frame.
The George Lucas-helmed film took in $431.1 million at the box office by the end of its North American run. Internationally, Phantom Menace grossed $494 million, bringing its worldwide total to $925.1 million -- the second-highest of all time. Paramount and Fox's Titanic is No. 1 with $1.8 billion in worldwide box office.
--Brian Fuson for The Hollywood Reporter