'Force’ pulls local ‘Star Wars’ fans to theaters


Joseph Robinson of Melbourne accompanies his three daughters, Hannah, Natalie and Moriah, to the first showing of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at Carmike Cinemas at The Avenue Viera. The girls are dressed like Rey, the film's heroine.

Photos by Mike Gaffey

Fans turned out in force for the much-anticipated seventh installment of the blockbuster “Star Wars” series. Daniel Redlien of Rockledge attends the first showing of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"  at Carmike Cinemas as villainous Kylo Ren.

Moviegoers poured into Carmike Cinemas on Dec. 17 for a chance to be among the first to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Some devoted fans came in costume as their favorite characters from the nearly 40-year-old sci-fi saga.

“I can’t wait. I’ve been counting down the days,” said Natalie Robinson of Melbourne, who along with her two sisters Hannah and Moriah were dressed like Rey, the new film’s heroine.

Denise Stickland of Viera, who arrived at the multiplex with husband Philip and daughters Victoria and Alexandra, said her family watched the other “Star Wars” films to prepare for the latest chapter.

“We’re thrilled,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

Directed by J.J. Abrams, who took over for creator George Lucas, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the first film in the series since “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005 and picks up the intergalactic opera 30 years after the events of “Return of the Jedi.” Some familiar faces who have become part of pop culture return as well: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Chewbacca the wookie and droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.  

“The Force Awakens” introduces several new characters, including masked villain Kylo Ren. Daniel Redlien of Rockledge came dressed as Ren, complete with a red crossguard lightsaber.

“I’m hoping it gets back the magic of the original trilogy,” Redlien said.

“Star Wars” shattered box office records when it was released in 1977 and became a worldwide phenomenon, spawning two sequels and three prequels. “The Force Awakens” scored the biggest domestic opening in Hollywood history this past weekend, earning a whopping $238 million in the U.S. and $517 million worldwide.

Josh Chittick of Rockledge, dressed as a “generic Jedi Knight” and Anna Steadman of Rockledge, dressed as Rey, the heroine of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," prepare to see the first showing of the film at The Avenue Viera. Rockledge resident Josh Chittick of Rockledge, who came dressed as a “generic Jedi Knight,” and accompanied Anna Steadman of Rockledge, who wore Rey attire, said he hoped the new chapter captures the feel of the first three films.

“It certainly looks that way from the trailers that we’ve seen,” Chittick said. 

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