Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, the latest installment in George Lucas' iconic sci-fi franchise, smashed the U.K. record for the most advance ticket purchases after going on sale on Monday (19Oct15).

By selling more than 200,000 advance tickets in just 24 hours, the film beat rivals including Fifty Shades of Grey and the latest James Bond movie Spectre.

Demand was so strong for tickets that U.K. cinema websites struggled to cope, with the managers of the Odeon cinema chain's account thanking fans for their patience after complaints, and blaming problems on "heavy traffic".

In the U.S., bosses of movie tickets website Fandango report they sold eight times as many tickets on the first day of sales as the previous record holder, the first Hunger Games film.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is due to open in the U.K. and U.S. on 18 December (15).