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Monday, September 04, 2006

Star Wars Opening Night

Approximately 6p.m. Wednesday May 19th in Ocala Florida. Location: theater. Opening night of Star-Wars saga: The Phantom Menace. Participant/Observer. Description: 16-plex theater with large entrance/lobby.
Arrived at approximately 6 pm to purchase tickets for the 7pm showing. Immediately got into line. Spouse is with me. Line is approximately 65 feet in length and we quickly become aware of the fact most people purchased tickets days ago after waiting in line for hours…[we feel fortunate].
Line is mostly composed of adults in 20's-30's. More male than female. Very few children or elderly. Entire line is very loud with several hundred people waiting for the show(s). Most people are with groups, standing in circles within the line. The line is very ragged and difficult to navigate. The line becomes much longer in a very short time…extending out the door of the theater. There are three shows (7:00, 7:30, and 8:00) so people are intertwined into a large line. Persons waiting on other shows are complaining….loudly…about the "star wars people". There is tension as people occasionally try to "skip". After about 20 minutes the teenage boys behind my husband and I try to skip…we "call them" on it and they back off. Becomes very playful and we begin talking to them as they now maintain "our place' in line and make others back off. Their fathers come and we all begin talking. The people behind join in…especially an oriental man in his 40's (?) holding a Star Trek magazine. I am the only female within the immediate area…all of the men are in their 30'-40's or teens. The teenage boys are sent to stand in the popcorn line…obviously the "gophers". We joke about the boys for awhile. Mood is very upbeat and conversation drones endlessly about the sound effects of the movie we are about to see. I begin to tune it out.
People keep asking the time since I'm wearing a watch…we are standing directly below a pink neon clock on the wall to the right. After the 5th request in 10 minutes, I point this out to everyone. Some hispanic men in their 30's/40's begin to speak in spanish about us. My husband, who is hispanic, ignores them and won't tell me what they say. They realize what is happening and stop talking for quite awhile until the children return. My husband and I make small talk and do not turn around. [Tense].
The group in front of us spills cola and popcorn. The girl/young lady with dyed blond hair and too much make-up becomes very agitated. A young man with totally white hair about 15 feet in front of us is literally jumping up and down and around. I can't tell why but he is smiling. The line for refreshments is long and spilling into the line for the movie. The manager steps on top of the counter and begins yelling which lines are which (two lines go right and one goes left). People begin moaning and booing as they realize they are in the wrong lines. We move ahead as some people leave the line to join the other. Nobody in our immediate area leaves but begin speaking about how "lucky" they are to be in the correct line.
[This idea of luck is repeated in different themes…how lucky they were to get tickets after standing in line for four hours last Saturday, how lucky they were to be in this line early enough to get a good seat in the theater, how lucky they were to be here on opening night, how lucky they were to have seen the original Star Wars movie when it first appeared (everyone around us…and my husband and I had seen the original); how lucky we were to see it on a weekday night before all the kids are out of school for the summer…etc.].
My husband and I agreed not to tell everyone we just arrived and bought tickets without a problem…we actually began to feel "lucky" in comparison.
The time for the movie to begin is getting closer but of course the line doesn't move because the theater isn't open. People begin compressing the line closer together. Some ticket holders are just arriving and can't find the end of the line which now extends far beyond the door, outside, into the rain. People are trying to stand along side the line to hear when the 7pm line begins to move. People from other showings are in the same line in order to move closer to the doors (at least that's what the people around me are saying…the hispanic group is for the 7:30 show and the asian man is for the 8:00 show).
The line tightens and compresses as newcomers stand on the sidelines to wait for the call. People leave the refreshment line and join their groups. Very noisy. Conversation is loosely structured. People who hear something from one group join in without waiting to be asked: they just begin talking about it. The conversation includes a lot of trivia from not only Star Wars but other science fiction movies and technology in general. Overall the atmosphere is friendly but tense if someone moves the line. Someone drops an umbrella behind me and a short argument erupts. Groups seem to protect their area. A woman with short blond hair and a mini-skirt tries to get in line. The men all give her dirty looks and she quickly moves on. The line finally begins to move and there is talk about a fight if anyone tries to break in on the line. It is in good humor. The line looses all structure as everyone is compressed into the receiving area. People for later shows fall to the sides to take a new place in line. We get good seats. The movie is okay for a sci-fi flick.


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