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Tickets for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" go on sale Monday, two months before the movie hits U.S. theaters.

Sales will start after a new trailer for the seventh installment of the "Star Wars" saga airs during the "Monday Night Football" broadcast on ESPN, Walt Disney Co. said in an e- mailed statement Sunday. The movie is set to open in the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 18.

"The Force Awakens" is the first in the series since Disney acquired franchise-owner Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4 billion in 2012. The film is expected to be one of the top-grossing pictures of the year, if not all time.

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"Fans have been super excited ever since the first 'Force Awakens' teaser trailer dropped," said Dave Karger, chief correspondent at the online ticket seller site Fandango. "It's been over 10 years since a 'Star Wars' movie was introduced in theaters."

Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne said in June that the movie could be the third highest-grossing film in history. He estimated "The Force Awakens" will take in $1.95 billion in ticket sales worldwide. That would place it behind "Avatar" at $2.8 billion and "Titanic" at $2.2 billion, according to data from Boxofficemojo.com.

Selling tickets two months before a film's debut is a strategy Hollywood has deployed in the past for its most highly- anticipated releases.

"The Force Awakens," directed by J.J. Abrams, has revealed itself in two earlier trailers to be very much an homage to the 1977 original, even to the point of including most of its cast.

Disney has been seeding the market for a new generation of fans, showing "Star Wars Rebels," a cartoon on its Disney XD network, and releasing toys globally last month in a promotion it dubbed "Force Friday."

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