Movies may come and go, but the Jedi will always return and with them, the hordes of March--the Lucas Legions, who swarmed into Hollywood this week.
It was no big deal--just the first public showing of a back-to-back screening of George Lucas' "Star Wars" trilogy: "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." Thursday's fans descended en masse with their children, lightsabers and their particular loyalty on the Avco in Westwood and the Egyptian in Hollywood to celebrate what almost seems an annual holiday--a Lucasfilm Ltd. event.
Mike Gonzalez of Encinitas was the first in line at the Egyptian. "I was hired to hold a place for two friends from San Diego," he said Thursday morning. "I'm also making $50, and the price of the ticket." He smiled expansively.
"I've been here since 3 a.m. Wednesday, plus I get to live with all this beautiful Hollywood Boulevard crowd!" Asked if he'd seen the films several times, he replied, "I'm not one of those bozo fanatics."
Kevin Moyna of Santa Ana had been there since 8 p.m. Wednesday. "I knew I had to get in line early 'cause I knew it would be long. I got the day off--otherwise I might have called in sick."
By mid-morning Thursday, there were about 125 people in line, but as it neared noon, when the tickets were to go on sale, the line had swollen to several hundred. And the media came out with the sun, zeroing in on the fans in costume.
The fans, so adept at keeping themselves occupied, played backgammon, Trivia games and cassettes of John Williams music.
Twentieth Century Fox, distributor for the three films, provided coffee and doughnuts for the crowd and Lucasfilm Ltd. provided commemorative badges and a glossy ticket stub. Howard Kazanjian, producer for "Return of the Jedi," eyeing the fans through the glass doors of the theater, commented: "I came to see the fans--this is my film. They're the ones that support us. I love it."
The Lucasfilm Ltd. personnel--Maureen Garrett, president of the Official Star Wars/Lucasfilm Ltd. fan club; Sidney Ganis, senior vice president, marketing and publicity, and Kazanjian--remain refreshingly unjaded about the whole thing. Ganis said, "L.A. is the hotbed of fandom. And we're doing this for them."
The fans were also supporting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting since the $10 ticket went to support children's programming, which happens to be a particular concern of George Lucas.
Once the films got rolling at 4 p.m., so did the fans. After all the times this crowd had collectively seen these films, they might show some boredom. Not a chance. As Luke Skywalker learned the pitfalls and processes of the Force, the fans got increasingly wound up. By the time "Return of the Jedi" startedshortly after 9 p.m. they were standing and cheering, loud and long, at the drop of a star destroyer.
One fan, who calls herself Victoria! ("I prefer an explanation mark to a last name," she said) of Reseda summed up the experience: "It's the same reason you enjoy fairy tales; there's always something new to learn."