'Star Wars' tickets go on sale today

May 11, 1999

New Star WarsBy MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer


Tickets for the cinematic force coming to town next week go on sale today in Hagerstown and Martinsburg, W.Va.

The box office will open for the much-hyped ''Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace'' at 3 p.m. at Hoyts Martinsburg Cinemas 10, according to Kim Brewer, general manager.

At R/C Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike, tickets go on sale at 5:20 p.m. today.

Fans will have to wait until noon Tuesday, May 18, to buy tickets at the Chambersburg Mall theater in Chambersburg, Pa., and until 11 p.m. that day to pick them up at Waynesboro Theatre in Waynesboro, Pa.

"Episode I" premieres at Hagerstown Cinema 10, Waynesboro Theatre and at the theater at Chambersburg Mall at 12:01 a.m. on May 19. The movie will hit the screen at 1 p.m. that day at Hoyts Martinsburg 10.


The film, rated "PG," is the first of three prequels to George Lucas' legendary trilogy, which includes "Star Wars: A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."

"Episode I" stars Liam Neeson as Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn. His apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is played by Ewan McGregor. A young Anakin Skywalker, who will become the evil Darth Vader, is played by Jake Lloyd.

Along for the ride are familiar "Star Wars" characters Yoda, R2-D2, C-3PO and Jabba the Hutt.

Despite the excitement generated by the trailers and collectibles, theater officials recommend patience.

Waynesboro Theatre owner Lou Radakovich said people should wait a week or two before venturing out to see the tale of Darth Vader's childhood. Those who want to see the movie during the first week should arrive at his theater at least an hour early, he said.

Brewer recommends people wait at least three weeks before attempting to view the latest Lucas extravaganza.

Area theaters are increasing their staffing in anticipation of crowds and will show the science-fiction thriller several times a day.

"I'm very happy we're getting it," Radakovich said. "It's not going to be as difficult as people were saying."

The difficulties he referred to were the strings attached to obtaining permission to show the most-hyped movie since "Titanic."

Lucas set strict guidelines for showing the film, including requiring multiplexes to run it in their biggest auditoriums for eight to 12 weeks and limiting the number of trailers shown before the feature. He also prohibits on-screen advertisements that clash with his promotional partners, PepsiCo Inc. and toymaker Hasbro Inc.

Lucas originally forbade advance ticket sales, but gave in to theater owners. Many theaters are setting limits on the number of tickets per customer.

Because he never shows more than three trailers before any screening, Radakovich said he has no problem following Lucas' rule on previews. He also doesn't have any conflict with the director's rule about on-screen ads because he never shows any.

"I just don't believe in that," Radakovich said.

The Associated Press and Knight Ridder contributed to this story.

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