A thread on a certain forum disappeared before I could finish getting this typed up, and realized that the story does not live on in old bloggings, so I figure it would be a waste not to share this 10 year old story-
The year is 1999, the month, May. We are, one and all, in line for the midnight premiere of Star Wars Episode I (worth noting that this was a very rare, perhaps previously non-existent occurrence in the northern wilds of Minnesota at the time). Some started lining up early that morning, skipping school and work, making the local news in the process. However, my small circle (rightly) figured that 8pm would be the ideal time to join the slowly swelling ranks, optimizing our chances of getting in while minimizing our wait. We arrived, meeting up with one other that had arrived slightly ahead of us, and got ready to get our ZOMG NEW STAR WARS!!1!!!!!!!11!! on (a certain abominable moment in the Special Edition released a couple years prior all but forgotten for the moment).
Plopping down on the ground, we started playing the still-enjoyable-at-the-time Star Wars:CCG amongst ourselves. After all, we had two hours to kill in a blinding, and unusually warm, evening sun. As we waited, we watched the line grow around, and eventually out of, the edge of the rather large parking lot*, peppered here and there with a Vader, Stormtroopers, and some Jedi- the anticipation was palpable already.
Eventually, 10pm rolled around and they started letting us in, excitement builds! While we waited our turn, I took the opportunity to sabotage one of my companions by telling the group to make sure they didn’t request a ticket to a different movie. Sure enough, we get to the counter and, the seed planted in his head, he completely screws it up, asking for a ticket to the wrong movie (The Mummy, I think). Realizing what he’s just done, he freezes for a moment before correcting his mistake, and we revel in his embarrassment. In we go! We wind up almost as close as can be- 2nd row, a little off center (I wind up second seat from the end, seated next to some out-of-town stoner, who proved to be rather entertaining)- and hunker down for the remaining hour and a half wait until showtime.
Shortly after, with every single seat filled, someone very drunk starts getting very loud, chanting for them to start the movie. We all kind of laugh and applaud, but restrain from joining in. The ushers have words with him, and he quiets down, but then starts up again, repeating the cycle 2-3 times before they pull him off to the side. And then.
And then. All of a sudden, the lights dim and the projector fires up! What is going on!?
I quickly check my watch, we’re barely past 11! Are they secretly showing something else in front of it? Confusion! Then the Lucasfilm logo springs forth from the blackness, and the theater explodes in raucous, ecstatic, deafening cheering/nerdgasming. Our drunken comrade (kicked out or not, I’ll never know) has somehow gotten them to give us our long-awaited movie an hour earlier than the millions of others awaiting their respective screenings. We were blessed, being first-ier than the millions of other nerds in seeing the grand new Star Wars adventure had given us an additional feather to wear in our nerd hats.
And then, one and all, we watched the thing we had loved and cherished and grown up with become ruined forever.
An hour ahead of everyone else.
There were still some enjoyable moments in it, particularly the podrace sequence and the duel at the end, but after that, Star Wars was never the same. The second and third parts were seen with ever-lessening hope that things would be salvaged, but still seen out of an obsessive need to know regardless. Interest in the parallel properties- the games and novels- diminished at an accelerating pace, until I was all but done with following the franchise early in the new decade.
A couple of bright spots have occurred since then though- Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series, the union of LEGO and Star Wars, and the recentish Force Unleashed in particular- so I cannot help but keep a casual eye in its direction for glimmers of the old magic to appear, but by and large, the starship has sailed.
*I would hear afterwards that all of the restaurants that were still open were absolutely swarmed by people that couldn’t get into the show, seems to me they got the better deal in the end.