MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — As the line for the newest Star Wars snaked throughout the lobby of Regal Cinemas on Thursday evening, many in the crowd said they had been waiting more than a decade for the continuation of the beloved cinema series.
“I’ve been waiting for a new movie since ‘Revenge of the Sith,'” said Brandon Lowery, who began waiting in line at 5 p.m. for the 7 p.m. showing. “Even longer if you don’t count the first three movies (Episodes 1-3) which I don’t.”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the seventh movie of the Star Wars saga, which is now playing in all theatres in the nation. The passion the series’ fandom is known for was in full force Thursday night, with moviegoers dressed in costumes and sporting themed shirts.
Martinsburg resident Lawrence Rose was wearing a Star Wars-themed Christmas sweater as he waited for seating for the 8 p.m. showing, choosing the later showing in hopes of avoiding a crazy crowd.
“I’m a nerd, so it’s very easy for me to jump into it. I’m super excited about it. I watched the movies growing up on VHS gold box, what my parents bought me when I was a kid. So I’m excited. At the same time, I’m not that crazy fan, I’m not going to knock people over for a good seat,” Rose said.
“On the flip side of that, I was at the celebration and convention for Star Wars in Anaheim, California. It was a great experience. I saw (director) J.J. Abrams and the cast, so I’ve been following it from the beginning,” he said.
Evangeline Shank, of Baltimore, Maryland, who was seeing the movie with Rose, said she took the opposite approach in preparing for the movie and did not follow any announcements, spoilers or releases.
“I haven’t been following it because I just didn’t want to know. I’m just expecting a really good cinematic experience. I don’t have hopes for the characters or who’s going to be a Sith. I’m just expecting a really, really good movie,” she said, adding that the movies are childhood fun memories that she grew up with as a kid.
Rose, who works at the Martinsburg Regal Cinema, said that every screen was playing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” after 7 p.m., creating the potential for several thousand people, with viewing rooms ranging from a capacity of 200 to 600.
Wanting to ensure that he had a good movie experience, Dan Gambino and several friends rented one of the theatres and purchased all the seats in one of the rooms that fits about 200 people.
“We bought out the seats, about 200 for 57 people. That way, there won’t be anyone running around, no kids. I’m not a huge fan. I just wanted peace and quiet,” Gambino said.
Seeing the movie with Gambino, Brent Miller said he would be watching for explosions while Tyler Gambino said he wanted “droid tomfoolery.” Dan said he hoped the movie would carry on the series from where it left off 30 years ago, with some surprises.