It seems Star Wars: The Force Awakens nearly broke the internet over the weekend, as people posted about their trips to theaters for the latest episode in the science fiction behemoth. The film follows the continuing drama of the Skywalker family, as well as the never ending war of good versus evil. The Force Awakens is also the first time the original cast, from episodes four through six, have stepped onto the Millennium Falcon in 32 years.
The area was not immune to the hype of the galactic gargantuan, with two cinemas reporting positive feedback.
Portsmouth Cinema went above and beyond to prepare for the fans on Thursday night’s release. They shut the cinema down, showcasing Star Wars in seven of its theatres. According to one manager, the theater saw around 600 patrons on the pre-sale release night.
“We were able to shut down all but one other movie,” Assistant Manager Tammy McGuire said. “We were able to accommodate all of our guests, anyone who showed up to get a seat.”
The weekend trend continued, with sold-out theaters all weekend. The cinema featured the film in 2-D seven times a day, and three times a day in 3-D.
Earlier in the week, as the big day approached, the response from local fans began getting larger and larger. Management became worried about keeping order, so the cinema reached out to the Portsmouth Police Department. They agreed to assist.
“The police were our true Jedi in this case,” McGuire said. “They were here all weekend to watch over the cinema.”
McGuire said that the officers were stationed around the theater all weekend, ensuring peace and watching over the vehicles in the packed parking lot.
Not only was law enforcement strict, but so was Disney. Prior to opening night, the cinema had a plethora of policies on how they could check the quality of the film, in order to keep the story from getting out.
Overall, McGuire said that she had an excellent opening weekend and the patrons were pleased with the extra events the cinema held.
“People were coming out of the theaters happy,” McGuire said. “They are really liking it and saying it is good. Of course, they all have questions. They are asking who this is and that is. They are shocked. Everyone seems ready for the next installment already.”
Many locals have responded to the release of the film.
While not practicing law, local Jedi Master Jeremy Burnside has studied the Force.
His love of the Star Wars movies come from the messages in them.
“It is a story of searching and finding inner strength to overcome wrong,” Burnside explained.
The young lawyer is a movie connoisseur, having altered his renovated-church office space into a replica of the “To Kill A Mockingbird” courtroom set. He says he made the decision for important matters, such as case preparation, educational opportunities for area mock trial groups, and Star Wars marathons.
Master Burnside turned his office into a Jedi Temple on the release date, screening the original movies and preparing for the big day with friends and fellow Jedi.
Burnside was pleased with the new film, stating, “It was well worth the wait, especially without all the CGI garbage taking away from the storytelling.”
Star Wars has been an impacting cultural phenomenon for Burnside, as it has for many others. From a young boy, to an accomplished attorney and author, Burnside has carried the Force with him. He even recalls reaching out to the story’s creator, as an undergraduate in Charleston, West Virginia.
“One of my most embarrassing moments was sending a letter to George Lucas about why I should be cast as Anakin Skywalker,” Burnside joked. “I was in college and had no acting experience.”
Wheelersburg Cinemas and Portsmouth Cinemas are both currently showcasing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“Star Wars is an iconic movie. A lot of people grew up on it, when it first came out in the 70’s. We loved it then, just as people are ready for this new trilogy,” McGuire said. “I think we are all ready for the story to continue. It is for all age groups, too. The fans aren’t restricted to those who saw it back in the 70’s, but we have all age groups in here, ready to celebrate the Force.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-464-4501, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.