HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA —
"Episode VII: The Force Awakens," the latest chapter in filmmaker George Lucas’ "Star Wars" saga, is expected to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Even though it won’t be in theaters until December 17, devoted fans are lining up to see it.
“It’s a classic movie, so we all want to see from where it left off to where it's going to go,” said "Star Wars" fan Andrew Porters. "Myself and Caroline, my fiancee, we flew for 12 hours to come across [from Australia], and a lot of other people have come from all over America to meet here.”
"Here" is the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, formerly known as Mann’s Chinese Theatre. Advance tickets went on sale in October, and "we sold out instantaneously for all the opening shows and opening weekend," said Alwyn Hight Kushner, the theater company's president.
“The first ['Star Wars'] movie showed was at this theater, so it holds a special place," Porters said.
Porters' group, Liningup.net, bought over 500 tickets for the opening-night screenings at the TCL Chinese Theatre. In order to get one, fans have to register and accumulate 24 hours of “line time.” The longer people “camp out” in line, the better their seats will be.
“We’ve got about 130 signed up and we’re nine days out,” Porters said earlier this week.
Some fans think it's about more than just being first to see the movie.
“Ninety percent of this is about your family, and your friends, and getting together," said "Star Wars" fan Nathan Clukey. "Ten percent of it is about the movie.”
But that doesn't mean he won't head into the theater on opening night with a critical eye.
“Kids are going to love it. Most people are going to love it, absolutely," Clukey said. The most devoted fans "are the hardest ones to please, so even if we like it, that’s a great success.”
“I think the trick is to go in without any real expectations and just be excited for what you get," Porters said.
“Even if it isn’t good, I’d still be here," Clukey said, " ... but this one actually should be good. All the elements are good. The visuals are going to be good. J.J. [Abrams] is a good director. We’ve got the original actors again. It’s going to be done right.”
The original "Star Wars" had a record-breaking 62-week run at the Chinese Theatre in 1977. Nowadays, most movies at the TCL site screen for two weeks, but not "The Force Awakens." Initial plans are for the film to screen for four weeks, and, depending on its success, maybe longer.