What it's like seeing 'Star Wars' during the madness of opening night

Star wars force awakens trailerDisney/LucasfilmRey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8 are the latest characters introduced to the ‘Star Wars’ universe in ‘The Force Awakens.’

Going to see a “Star Wars” movie on opening night is a rite of passage for die-hard fans.

But I am not the world’s most die-hard “Star Wars” fan.

Sure, I’ve always enjoyed the franchise, but I was never somebody who went opening night, bought all the merchandise, and brainstormed fan theories all day.

But in the past year, “Star Wars” has basically taken over the world in anticipation of the release of “The Force Awakens.” My appreciation for the franchise has grown exponentially over the past year.

Partially to avoid an onslaught of spoilers, I decided it was time to buy a ticket to see “The Force Awakens” on opening night. Sure, it required a long wait, but two hours, instead of two weeks, in advance was good enough. It also helped to be around an intensely energetic crowd. Nights like this remind you why going to the theatre is both fun and important.

“Star Wars” is, we all know, more than just a movie. Here was my experience going to my first ever “Star Wars” opening night.

I arrived at the theatre at 7:30 p.m. The movie wasn't until 10:15 p.m., but I was told to arrive early. There was already a massive line.

Ian Phillips/INSIDER

Surprisingly, there weren't many people in costume.

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Luckily, I came prepared.

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People in costumes eventually showed up. Vader was a popular choice. Meanwhile, Boba Fett really needed his coffee to get through the night.

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The guy in the Vader mask is listening to a 'Star Wars' disco remix on those giant headphones. It is a surprisingly good way to pump you up for a new 'Star Wars' movie.

Other fans showed their support in less elaborate ways.

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Attendees found a lot of different ways to pass the time. This one fan brought her laptop to watch 'The Empire Strikes Back,' which is arguably the best 'Star Wars' movie of all time.

Ian Phillips/INSIDER

I hadn't seen 'Empire' in a long time, so I decided to re-watch it for a bit.

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Suddenly, the staff rounded us up and brought us inside...

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...to wait in a second line. At least it's warmer inside.

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No, they are not waiting in line to see 'The Big Short.'

Space in the theatre was tight. This line stretched all the way around in many weird directions.

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Theatre owners anticipated what was likely to be the busiest night of 2015 and laid down some strict rules. There were no lightsabers allowed.

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An employee tells a would-be bounty hunter to drop his lightsaber.

Employees confiscated all lightsabers. Every person with a lightsaber was handed this piece of paper and was told to come pick it up after the movie ended.

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There were also no masks allowed. Sorry, Darth.

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After nearly two and a half hours of waiting, it was time to be seated. There was a mad rush to get in. Surprisingly, there were still a few empty rows. I guess no one wants to sit in the front row.

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The entire balcony was full, though.

This was my face when I realised I found a good seat and was about to watch a new 'Star Wars' movie.

Ian Phillips/INSIDER

Then, 'The Force Awakens' started. My phone was turned off during the entire movie, of course.

Disney

The audience broke out in rousing rounds of applause every time a favourite character came onscreen for the first time.

Like stepping out of a major tourist attraction, once the movie ended, you are greeted by a merchandise table.

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No wonder Disney bought 'Star Wars' for $4 billion. When you're a 'Star Wars' fan, the costumes, toys, and shirts are as integral to the experience as the movies themselves.

Well played, Lucasfilm. Well played.

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