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The Internet Falls Asleep As the Force Awakens

Update:

Following the North American release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we updated our data to include the decline in online traffic in Canada and the US at the time of the film’s first screening. You can check out the new numbers in the infographic below.

For the US, we also monitored the hourly changes in traffic for 24 hours after the screening (5:00 GMT on 12.18 to 5:00 GMT on 12.19), to see if the drop in activity would carry over to the West Coast. During those 24 hours, the number of unique sessions from the US to websites on our network dropped by 5.15%.

Finally, after publishing the initial post, it was brought to our attention that many fans are going to incredible lengths to avoid the threat of the “spoiler jihad” (it’s a thing), including installing additional browser extensions and keeping their online interactions to a minimum.

We think that such efforts likely contributed to the decline in online traffic on websites on our network.

With that in mind, we want to salute the brave /r/StarWars/ moderators who continue to throw themselves into the fray of new comments and suspect discussions, deleting potential spoilers at the risk of exposing themselves to information that may ruin their own movie-going experience.

Such selfless acts are the embodiment of the Jedi Code’s decree: “Ignorance, yet knowledge.”

We encourage you to take a moment to share your appreciation for their efforts in the comments below.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a massive global hit. After a record breaking opening night, experts anticipate the film’s first weekend to bring in upwards of $500 million ($200 million stateside, $300 million international) worldwide. That would place it at, or near, the top of the list of the biggest film openings of all time.

As the movie started rolling out in theaters around the world, we saw a noticeable decline in activity on our network. This was the result of a huge number of fans sinking into their movie theater seats to enjoy the latest from the galaxy far, far away.

Specifically, here’s what happened so far to online traffic in several major countries at the time of the film’s first screening:

Internet Falls Asleep As the Force Awakens

As you can see, everyone has caught the Star Wars bug, but some clearly have it worse than others. Who knows, maybe some fans are still shell-shocked from the Jar Jar Binks (or is it Supreme Leader Snoke?) fiasco. Or maybe the padawans in Russia are not turning off their mobile phones when that opening crawl appears?

One way or another, the movie was big enough to cause a noticeable dent in Internet traffic—an achievement that very few cultural phenomena can claim.

We will keep an eye out for any future developments, including any changes in traffic we may see following the much anticipated US release.

Still, judging by the drop in the global online traffic flow we’ve seen so far, it seems that Star Wars is finally back – in Force.

Methodology

This data was derived by comparing online traffic on the Imperva Incapsula content delivery network at the time of the first IMAX screening of Star Wars Episode VII, with the average traffic at the same time of day, from 12/02/2015 – 12/15/2015. The comparison was done individually for each country, based on the time of the first screening in the selected cities listed below.

City, Country Time of the first IMAX screening
(local time)
Date of the first IMAX screening
(local time)
Paris, France 10:20 16/12/2015
Moscow, Russia 00:05 17/12/2015
London, England 00:05 17/12/2015
Berlin, Germany 00:00 17/12/2015
New York, US 00:00 18/12/2015
Toronto, Canada 00:00 18/12/2015

On average, the Imperva Incapsula network serves more than 320 million unique sessions per day.