It’s finally here!
The biggest and most anticipated movie in ages, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” began screening across New York City and around the United States Thursday night, greeted locally by avid fans who thought nothing of enduring long lines and heavy rain to be the first die-hards back in the “galaxy far, far away.”
With “Episode VII” having already smashed the Fandango record for most tickets sold over the course of a movie’s run, and experts expecting other box office marks to fall in the days and weeks ahead, the excitement was palpable among those lucky first viewers ahead of Thursday’s 7 p.m. shows.
“Some part of me feels that in 20 years from now my kids will be in love with ‘Star Wars’ and they’ll say ‘Oh man it would have been so cool to be there,’ and I’ll be able to tell them yeah, ‘Well I was there standing in the rain lined up with my friends like an idiot,’ ” said Roberto Castellanos, 24, of Bay Ridge.
Castellanos and his friends had spent so much time lined up outside the Regal theater in Union Square that they dropped off their jackets to be dried at a nearby laundromat.
Fans dressed as their favorite heroes, villains, droids and aliens bonded over their love for George Lucas’ universe, now overseen by director J.J. Abrams for the new installment.
Courtney White, 22, of Fairfield, Connecticut, joined her two friends from the Bronx at the AMC Empire in Times Square with toy lightsabers in tow.
“You know you’re going to get the most excited fans here,” said White, the only one of the trio not decked out as a Jedi.
Of course, “Star Wars” has a powerful hold on the collective conscience rivaled by few other popular entertainment series. Nostalgia was in full force on Thursday: The return of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia created an extra buzz outside theaters, as did the memories of the bonds forged over “Star Wars” in the past.
David Powers, 43, of the Upper West Side, recalled seeing the original movie in theaters with his mother in 1977. He was seeing “The Force Awakens” with his 13-year-old son Adam.
“I still have the toys, and I let him play with the toys when he was little,” he recalled.
Danes Torres, 52, a civil service worker from Clinton Hill who was dressed as a Jedi outside Lincoln Center, had a simple message that summed up the prevailing sentiment ahead of that first screening:
“I’m psyched. The characters I love are back on the screen,” he said. “May the force be with you and all of us.”