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Photos: 'Star Wars' Fans Already Lining Up Outside Chinese Theatre In Hollywood
Over 100 Star Wars fans are already camping out in Hollywood to be among the first to see the latest installment of the film series when it debuts on Dec. 18.
Beginning this past Saturday at noon, dedicated super fans began arriving at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood—12 days before Star Wars: The Force Awakens screens at the historic theater. In the same courtyard where the cast from the first Star Wars film cast their footprints in cement, so far 128 people have staked a claim to get the best seats in the house for the film's first showing. And, yes, while they do have chairs, coolers and tents to help make the wait more comfortable, they are able to take bathroom breaks, and leave for work and other life responsibilities. Line members are even helping to raise money for charity, while they spend time with the community of fellow fans.
The footprints of R2D2, C3PO and Darth Vader at TCL Chinese Theatre (Photo by Danny Jensen/LAist)
"We're all friends and family, so really it's the overwhelming feeling of watching a movie that we all love with people that we all love," Nathan Clukey, who is tied for first place in the line, tells LAist. "Since we all know each other, we have a lot of fun, like a family reunion." He remembers his dad taking him to the screening of the first film in Maine when he was five, and even recalls a huge line wrapped around the theater.
To take a break from the line, fans simply sign out at a volunteer-run table set up by the fan group LiningUp.net, which helped to organize the gathering—known as "The Line Awakens"—for this screening at the theater, along with the lines for the previous three Star Wars premieres in 1999, 2002 and 2005. For those films, fans camped out for six weeks. The organization has already secured a large portion of the tickets for the screening, and according to the group's rules, as long as fans log a total of 24 hours over the 12-day period, they're entitled to buy two of those tickets. They can also purchase one extra ticket for each additional 24 hours that they log. Emily Christiansen, one of the organizers from Liningup.net, tells LAist that the more hours that you log, the better your standing is for having the pick of the best seats in the house for the screening.
And, unlike the lines for previous Star Wars screenings where they wrapped around the block, the TCL Chinese Theatre has invited fans this year to set up tents inside the historic courtyard, though tents are required to be dismantled by 6 a.m. and can't be put up until midnight every day. They've even allowed them unprecedented access to the theater's restrooms during the night.
Levi Tinker, Director of Tours at TCL Chinese, tells LAist they're thrilled to have the fans gather at the theater. "This is where it all began back in 1977," he says. "There's no better place to experience Star Wars on the giant screen than the TCL Chinese IMAX with the history and with the IMAX laser projection system. And there's a very community-driven feel here and a tradition: a lot of these people have known each other for 15 plus years when they met in the line in the past." Besides the screenings, many of the attendees also meet up throughout the year for birthday parties, Disney events, and screenings of other films.
Besides getting access to the best seats in the house and catching up with old friends, those waiting in line also have a chance to give back. Liningup.net and other local Star Wars fan groups like the 501st Legion, have partnered with Starlight Children’s Foundation, which helps seriously ill children and teenagers. Fans, and even passersbys, can donate to the group via text message or online.
Tibbs waiting in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre (Photo by Danny Jensen/LAist)
"This is a great thing. It brings people together from all over the world, you've got guys from Australia and me, from South Carolina, and you'll never see a fight break out, you never see nerds fighting each other," explains a fan who goes by Tibbs and has camped out since Saturday. "We just get to hang out, relax together and tell stories."
Tibbs also has a long history of waiting to see Star Wars at the Chinese Theatre, as he came here in 1977 with his family to see Star Wars: A New Hope, when he was three. The memories may be fuzzy, but he tells us, "This is a complete full circle, I'm back here again."