Saint John — Moviegoers in line for the premiere of the long-awaited seventh instalment of the Star Wars film franchise pulled out all the stops yesterday to create a memorable atmosphere of fan euphoria, with many dressing up as their favourite characters, while the rest were so bizarre and homely that they passed off as alien creatures without any real effort.
The Manatee was on site at the Cineplex on McAllister Drive in Saint John last evening to speak with fans eagerly awaiting the late-night premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Patrick McDonald of Rothesay had his tickets booked weeks in advance, and had been looking forward to the film since it was announced in 2012. His passion for Star Wars is clear, as he smiles excitedly behind what appears to be thick, orange paste covering his face. His giant, bulbous eyes suggest he is cosplaying Admiral Ackbar, the squid-like Rebel fleet commander from Return of the Jedi.
“I was going to get dressed up as a character before coming out tonight, but I was short on time,” McDonald clarifies, before sticking his arm elbow-deep into a giant bag of nacho cheese Doritos, his only rations during the long wait until showtime.
“I was thinking of doing Darth Maul, but that makeup is a lot of work,” he adds, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand and slathering another layer of orange gunk on his face.
At the front of the line, a small tent city is visible, most likely set up by devoted Star Wars fanatics who have been camping out at the theatre since early last week. Several slouched, hooded figures can be seen stumbling around the area — including what appear to be fans dressed as the nightmarish villain Emperor Palpatine, and a nomadic Tusken Raider, accompanied by a mangy, semi-rabid dog.
Upon closer inspection, it was revealed these were simply local vagrants: one elderly man wearing nothing but a black garbage bag, and another dressed in rags, mumbling incoherently, accompanied by a mangy, semi-rabid dog.
Later in the evening, the line finally begins to make its slow shuffle into the theatre lobby, and fans are greeted by Cineplex employees also in costume: one is dressed as the bounty hunter Greedo, and another as a lifesized Jabba the Hutt. On the way in, many patrons are heard complimenting the staff on their handiwork, only to discover that Greedo is simply a pimply teenager working part-time over the holidays, and Jabba the Hutt is nothing more than a morbidly obese young woman who was recently laid off from the Saint John Visitor Information Centre at city hall.
At the very end of the line, a small Ewok-like person wearing a forest-camo tunic could be seen flagging down other moviegoers, asking them whether he was in the right line for The Hunger Games.