HOLLYWOOD — Where “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” will rank in all-time box office history is not yet known; but as a charity fund-raiser, the pic shares the top slot with “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Ten “Sith” preems, which unspooled nationwide Thursday, likely raised more money for charity than any film premiere in history other than 1993’s “Sleepless” preem, where Edie Wasserman was honored at a Motion Picture & Television Fund benefit in Century City.
Both launches raised $2.5 million (though “Sleepless” arguably gets top billing since the coin was raised with just one screening.)
“George’s mandate has been consistent for the last five ‘Star Wars’ films,” said Lucas Licensing prexy Howard Roffman, who was at “Sith’s” Village theater preem. “Use the goodwill and desire to see the film as a way to raise money for charities that help families and children.”
The largest take Thursday came from Los Angeles, where $900,000 was raised for Artists for a New South Africa’s work with orphaned children with HIV/AIDS. A major supporter of the org is “Sith” co-star Samuel L. Jackson.
While Jackson was at the Gotham preem, his wife, ANSA treasurer LaTanya Richardson Jackson, was on hand in L.A., where she likened the org to pic’s character Yoda. “We’re small, we do some good and then we’re out of the picture,” she said.
Before the L.A. screening unspooled, Roffman cautioned the aud against using video cameras to pirate a copy of the film. “We have monitors inside the theater,” he said. “And when I say monitors — this is the company that invented the Evil Empire.”