Today you will find me standing in line at the Downtown Disney AMC 12 as I wait for the doors to open for the 12:30 showing of Star Wars–Attack of the Clones.
Three years ago I stood in a different line, in a different place.
In mid May, the trees are still budding and green grass is still a prewinter memory in Alaska. A mixture of dirt, sand, and salt covers everything as the land prepares to enter spring from a long winter. The air is crisp in the morning and warm enough in the afternoon that a coat is no longer required.
In Anchorage of 1999, there were only two theatres, in the population of 285,000, showing Star Wars–Episode I at midnight and only one of them was brand new with the latest sound and screen technology. The Century 16 near C Street was a welcome addition to the venues of entertainment when it was built. It was also the only theatre in Anchorage to feature stadium seating and big drink holders.
Needless to say the line for purchasing tickets stretched around the entire building once it got started. Theatre security prevented anyone from camping overnight on their property so some of them camped across the street, at the Loussac Library, until 6 AM when the movie nazi’s let them form a line.
I showed up shortly after 8 AM and found my friends who had made it there before me. They were playing a collectable card game, like many other line dwellers, to help pass the time. News reporters started making their rounds, creating the local version of Star Wars fandom story that was sure to be on every local news cast around the country.
Later that night a new line formed only this time it was blood, or the best seats. Fortunately my friends had even more friends who had shown up earlier and so we had a great position. We all brought our chairs, food, books, and more games to help pass the time.
Every goth, renaissance fair participant, Magic the Gathering player, Star Trek Fan Club Captain, and comic book reader from Anchorage was there at this premiere geek social event of the year. It was the who’s who’s crowd of the nerd elite.
Then the true diehards, dressed as Darth Vader and Bobba Fett, arrived and walked the line, posing for pictures and pretending to engage in Rebel ass-kicking action. They were followed by the Bosco’s ice cream truck, which was passing out free packs of Star Wars Collectable Card Game cards in effort to get the attention of the nicely assembled target market.
They were chased off by the movie nazi’s once, then twice, and finally a third time. Security guys just never get it, they were probably beaten as children.
Finally, after four hours of waiting in the post-apocalyptic outdoor environment, the doors opened to the very eager and rushed crowd.
After everyone settled in and started munching on Red Vines and Popcorn, Black Mike (a local radio station personality) entered to several people calleing out his name in true Norm style. He came over to me and held out his hand, we greeted one another in his sudo gang style, as is the fashion, and then looked through his copy of Star Wars Insider while we waited for the curtains to part.
Then came the big moment, the trademark scrolling introduction story! After three or four deafening cheers from the entire audience, the theatre was soon filled with 300 people all shhhing one another. It became dead silent as 100%, full nerd attention was directed at the screen.
Star Wars had come back and no one was going to let anything get in the way.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience. It ranks right up there with many Star Wars memories including the time in 1977 when my Grandma Storey gave me a Star Wars Light Saber after watching the original movie. I played in her hallway that had a huge mirror at the end, and with the lights turn off, I could transform into Darth Vader. Or the time Santa Claus brought almost the entire, action figure cast, of Jabba the Hutts palace. Or when Grandpa Storey bought my very own Slave II, the official ride of Bobba Fett.
The midnight premiere of Star Wars–Episode I in Anchorage, Alaska was a day of friendship, boyhood memories, action figure stories, and comradery. Sadly I won’t have that similar experience today but in a few short hours I will get to see Star Wars and that beats the best day at work anytime.