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'Star Wars' faithful lured to prequel

May 18, 1999

Susan and Jeff HildrethBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Troy Heydt and his friends relived the past without the benefit of time travel Tuesday.

They were first in line for the local premiere of "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" at R/C Cinema 10. They had the same distinction in 1983 for the opening of "Return of the Jedi" at the Long Meadow Cinema at Long Meadow Shopping Center in 1983.

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"Phantom Menace" opened at 12:01 a.m. across the country. It is the first of three prequels to George Lucas' epic trilogy - "Star Wars: A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi,"

Although lines had formed early outside the theater, by 11 p.m. about 150 tickets remained unsold, according to a theater employee. The film was showing at two Cinema 10 theaters with a combined 900 seats.

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Heydt, 33, of Frederick, Md., and about six friends from across the country gathered for an impromptu reunion outside the theater as they waited to see the sci-fi flick.

He arrived at Cinema 10 on Monday night and camped out in order to get the choice spot in line and relive his memories, he said.

"I wanted to do it to show my dedication - that I am a true fan," he said.

Theater employees previewed the film on Monday night and offered Heydt a chance to see it.

He declined.

"It wouldn't be right. I want to see it with all my friends that were there before," said Heydt, who was wearing a "Star Wars" T-shirt and X-wing fighter necklace.

For Susan and Jeff Hildreth, seeing the premiere took precedence over their honeymoon.

The Greencastle, Pa., couple said they got married last Saturday, but delayed their honeymoon until Wednesday so they could be on hand for opening night.

Steve Livesay, 20, of Hagerstown calls himself a "Star Wars" freak, but remains skeptical about "Phantom Menace."

"I hope it's not just a movie about special effects ... I hope there is some substance," he said.

Livesay, who came with his friend Pepper Ballard, 20, of Hagerstown said, the trilogy not only had great special effects but a great story line.

"Star Wars," enthusiast Joel Wolfe, 27, of Falling Waters, W.Va., has seen "Return of the Jedi," 22 times.

He and friends Aaron Eckel, 18, of Hagerstown, and Jarrod May, 18, of Greencastle, Pa., wanted to be among the first to see "Phantom Menace," he said.

The group fashioned homemade light sabers to get into the spirit of the movie.

"I'm really excited. I can't wait to see it," said Wolfe prior to the show.

South Hagerstown High School students Joseph Sisler, 14, Chris McAllister, 14, Justin Warner, 15, Brad Howell, 14, and Daniel West, 14, all of Hagerstown, arrived at the theater around 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The teens made the evening a total "Star Wars," experience. They played Star Wars Monopoly, listened to the sound track and dined on "Star Wars"-endorsed pizza and soda.

"We had to be official. If we didn't it would be like going over to the dark side," Warner joked.

Wielding glow-in-the-dark plastic light sabers, the teens held mock duels in the parking lot, taking on the roles of Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke Skywalker.

"We just want to get great seats - to be able to say we were there," Warner said.

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