(originally published in Avenue magazine, June 2005)
By Brian Tucker
Some sat in lawn chairs awaiting the opportunity to get a seat. Stephen Rogers was relaxing by the doors as dusk approached.
“I’m first in line to get a ticket,” Rogers said. As the sun set and night took over lines on both sides of the cinema grew.
“I can’t wait!” a young man could be overheard telling his friends. Parents and their children arrived late on a cool Wednesday night to watch the final episode of Star Wars. Fans of all ages arrived May 18th sharing the similar sentiment for a film franchise that has entranced filmgoers for nearly thirty years.
And in all that time since meeting Darth Vader, fans got to see how it all came about and say farewell. Some dressed as their favorite characters, most just were here take it all in. Fanboy Comics displayed memorabilia and held a drawing for Star Wars artwork by local artist Tom Fleming. Darth Vader was on hand, surrounded by storm troopers and the emperor himself.
As everyone filed in to auditoriums, light sabers flailed in the air across seats. In one theatre two teenagers engaged in a heated light saber duel down in front of the screen. Kids settled in with their candy and corn, lovers embraced and the die-hards could be seen white knuckling arm rests.
As the 20th Century Fox hit the screen a hush fell over the crowd and when the famous yellow Star Wars logo blasted off the screen the crowd yelled with exhilaration. This loud cheering could literally be heard from one auditorium to the next.
Just after an hour into the film unforeseen disaster struck. The first projector that was started for the night suffered a computer automation error which afflicted two auditoriums and could not be resolved. Patrons were each given extra passes and the cinema ran two extra shows at three in morning to accommodate those who had been affected. Staff at the Mayfaire remained until six that morning to satisfy and accommodate those been interrupted.
“Patrons came back over the weekend to see the film with their passes and were pleased how the cinema handled the situation,” said Chad Conville, assistant general manager at the Mayfaire 16. “Those who came back later that night were pleased that we stayed late to run it for them.”
Two hours and twenty minutes later there was unanimous applause. As credits rolled, many sat listening to John Williams famous score and then walked outside to the rising sun.