Topeka "Star Wars" fans arrive two hours early

Daisy Ridley as Rey, left, and John Boyega as Finn in a scene from the new film, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." (FILM FRAME/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Topeka "Star Wars" fans arrive two hours early

Expectations are high for latest film
December 18, 2015

Lloyd Herrera and Ed Garcia got their tickets to a Friday morning showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” three weeks ago, but still decided to show up two hours early.

“We just wanted to get the best seats,” Herrera said as they waited in the parking lot of the Hollywood Stadium 14 at about 8 a.m. Friday, despite 24-degree temperatures.

“And the freshest popcorn,” Garcia said, quickly adding that he was joking.

Hollywood Stadium 14 had eight showings of “Star Wars” in the standard format scheduled for Friday and 14 in 3D. Local management said they couldn’t comment on ticket sales, but nationwide, the movie sold $100 million in advance tickets, more than any other film in the (admittedly not terribly long) era of online presales, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

About 20 people had arrived by 8:30 a.m., when the theater opened its lobby. Despite the number of people who had bought their tickets in advance, people who said they hadn’t reserved them still could get in for the first showing.

Herrera and Garcia said they had been fans since the original 1977 film, which they saw at the former Boulevard Cinema in Topeka. Its opening weekend didn’t have the hype of the current film, Garcia said, but its popularity grew quickly.

“My brother worked at that theater at that time. After a few nights, there were lines,” he said. “They had to get ropes.”

Both said they had high expectations for the film and new director J.J. Abrams. In 2012, original director George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney, which brought Abrams on board to direct the next film.

“Let’s face it, George wasn’t going to do any more,” Herrera said. “Lucas had had enough, so it had to go in a different direction.”

The people waiting for the 9 a.m. showing on Friday shared high hopes for the newest installment, and most recalled seeing every “Star Wars” film released in their lifetimes in theaters. For some, that included all six, while others could only go back as far as “The Phantom Menace” in 1999.

Mark Galvan said he had wanted to see the film Thursday night, but he had to work, so he and some family members got tickets for a Friday showing in advance.

“We saw all of them. It’s kind of a tradition,” he said.

David Hinkle said he had bought his tickets more than a month in advance, but came early anyway to secure a good seat.

“I didn’t know what the lines would be like,” he said. “Better safe than sorry.”