The new Star Wars film opened in the wee small hours of Thursday with all the hype reserved for real astronauts.
And Harrogate wasn’t spared an outbreak of its own Star Wars mania for the movie launch of the year.
David Wilkinson, the deputy manager of the Harrogate Odeon, said he’d never seen anything like it in his 25 years at the biggest cinema in the Harrogate district.
“This one has the original cast in it, which is a big selling point. We showed the new James Bond film Spectre on three of our screens but Star Wars will be on all five screens at times with 15 screenings a day at its peak.”
The seventh Star Wars film to date since the series was launched in 1977, The Force Awakens has received rave reviews and looks set to smash all box office records.
More than 500,000 tickets have been booked across the UK by fans keen to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Star Wars Filmology
1977: Star Wars
1980: The Empire Strikes Back
1983: Return of the Jedi
1999: The Phantom Menace
2002: Attack of the Clones
2005: Revenge of the Sith
2015: The Force Awakens
While most of Harrogate was tucked up in bed, the first screening in Harrogate took place at one minute past midnight with queues of fans queuing in the dark on East Parade.
A fan of George Lucas’s sci-fi saga himself, as are his sons, David said the Odeon staff had got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up as the film’s famous characters such as Chewbacca, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.
But Britain’s largest cinema chain had to take precautions, hence that ‘ban’ on lightsabers reported by the national press, which turns out to be slightly inaccurate.
David, who lives in Harrogate, said: “We wanted the opening to be a fun event but we had to ask everyone to remove their helmets when they came into the Odeon and watch what they were doing with their lightsabers. As long as they didn’t light them up during the film it was fine!”