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Fans ready to take another trip to a galaxy far, far away

Jessica Fuller • Dec 14, 2017 at 12:13 AM

Forty years after Star Wars hit the big screen and launched a pop culture phenomenon, the eighth main installment of the series will premiere Thursday night and propel fans to long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Demand for presale tickets crashed the ticketing app Fandango when they went on sale in October; “The Last Jedi” is Fandango’s top ticket seller for the year.

When Star Wars came back from a 10-year-hiatus from the silver screen with the seventh main installment of the franchise, “The Force Awakens” bumped a few box office records — the fastest film to gross $1 billion, the highest-grossing Star Wars film, the highest-grossing Disney release and the highest-grossing film of 2015.

Abingdon Cinemall is carrying on its own Star Wars tradition by throwing a galactic party for its patrons for the new movie. Since opening in 1997, the theater has been around for five Star Wars premieres, and general manager Cindy Hubble said she expects about eight theaters to be showing the movie throughout Thursday evening, with more than 1,000 moviegoers stopping by for the evening.

The Cinemall will have a costume contest beginning at 6:15 Thursday evening, and a group of storm troopers and Mandelorian Mercs will be available for photo opportunities from 6 to 8 p.m. Fan art will also be on display, and a fan art contest winner will be announced by the end of the night.

Hubble said that over the years, she’s gotten to know a lot of the biggest Star Wars fans in the community, and many of them come back multiple times to see each film.

“They’re almost like family because they come every year,” she said. “We have our little Star Wars community.”

While Hubble said that several showings have sold out, she said that tickets are still available throughout the evening.

With the rebirth of the series and the continuation of the story beyond “Return of the Jedi,” some fans are excited, while others are a little apprehensive about where this new film will go. Some fans question the fate of Gen. Leia Organa’s character after Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death last year, while others are excited to see where the story will go for the franchise’s new galactic team.

Mouzer Coelho said he’s a fan of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” but felt “The Force Awakens” was too predictable and similar to other Star Wars movies for him to enjoy.

“There was a Death Star in the original trilogy, there was a bigger Death Star in “The Force Awakens,”” Coelho said. “I hope (The Last Jedi) goes in a different direction, because if it doesn’t I just won’t be a fan of it at all.”

Brennan Dye, another fan of the series, said that he liked what “The Force Awakens” set in motion with new characters and a new story, but that he’s mostly excited to see what director Rian Johnson will bring to the table for the series.

“J.J. Abrams is perfectly fine, but he’s also perfectly safe,” he said. “I think Johnson will do something a little different with the material.”

“The Last Jedi” officially premieres Friday, with early bird showings scattered on Thursday evening and at midnight on Friday. The film had its world premiere in Los Angeles earlier this week, and has been certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 94 percent from early reviews.

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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