In 1999, TPM was released on staggered dates throughout the world. North America got it May 19 and much of the world got it on various dates through the summer, with France bringing up the rear in October. Simultaneous worldwide releases were relatively new then but Star Wars fans outside of the U.S. and Canada weren’t going to wait two or three months to see the movie, especially with that newfangled thing called the internet threatening to spoil the movie months before it arrived on their shores. So what was a fan to do? Book a vacation to the U.S. of A., of course! I don’t know how many people traveled to New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and other easy hop destinations from the UK and the rest of Europe but it was enough to get media attention. One of my friends actually made the trip.
It was less of an issue with the releases of AOTC and ROTS, which opened the same date worldwide (with a few exceptions like Japan). However due to differing time zones, if you lived in Australia or New Zealand, you got at least a 16-hour jump on the U.S. and Europeans who had to schlep to New York in the past were enjoying midnight showings just as their U.S. East Coast counterparts were driving home from work.
Fast forward to 2015 and I spot an ad from Air France on Twitter promoting a “Flight And Cinema” package deal: “Star Wars VII: See The Movie 2 Days Before!” That’s right, France gets TFA on December 16, two days before its opening in North America, so now it comes full circle with American fans booking flights to Paris to see the flick first.
With your plane ticket (must be booked on specific flights departing December 15 from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York) you get a free ticket to the flick at a EuroCorp Cinema theater (designed by Luc Besson) and a free ride on a special Star Wars shuttle from the airport to theater. Sweet, non? As much as I love Paris, I would be so horribly jet lagged, I’d fall asleep within the first 20 minutes. Especially in those La-Z-Boys and lounge chairs the EuroCorp Cinema chain apparently has. But if you’ve got money to burn and want to toast TFA by the Eiffel Tower then hit Disneyland Paris afterwards, check out Air France’s offer here. And hope the movie isn’t dubbed in French!
However, I think Italy gets first dibs on TFA December 15. Ball’s in your court, Alitalia!