For months, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has been wrapped in the kind of protective secrecy usually accorded to classified information.
When the movie arrived at Rochester’s Paragon Chateau 14 Theaters this week, it was packaged in an unmarked box with strict instructions prohibiting any advance screening for employees. Typically, when movies are released to theaters, employees get to see them ahead of time.
“It was top secret,” said Ashley Streiff, Paragon Chateau’s guest serve manager.
Today, the wraps come off. The newest installment of the Star Wars saga in more than 10 years premiers in theaters across the country. It will be, in some sense, the passing of the lightsaber, a new generation of Star Wars fans introduced by their parents.
Kasson couple Jennifer and Robert Schubert will be among the first to view the movie. Both grew up watching the movies, re-enacting their favorite scenes, “Luke, use the Force,” and having countless lightsaber battles. When the couple got married, it was a happy accident that they also happened to be die-hard Star Wars fans.
But the couple also are an example of how much the Star Wars myth has woven itself into the global culture. Jennifer will be at the movie theater dressed as a Jawa sand creature, and Robert will be operating a computer replica of R2D2, welcoming theater-goers to the film.
Jennifer Schubert, a Mayo Clinic nurse, said she’s looking forward to a more updated and modern take on the space opera story.
“I’m really excited for the new roles, especially the women’s roles in the movie,” she said. “Previous (movies) had only one woman character, and this new movie has several women in it. Just because you’re a Star Wars fan doesn’t make you like a dork. It’s all inclusive.”
Zumbrota resident Andy Buchholz is not a “super-fan” in the dress-up sense, but he counts himself a fan nonetheless. He has a Star Wars shrine in his basement to prove it as well a history of devouring tons of Stars Wars material, including books, comics and video games.
Yet, even in the midst of his anticipation, he tries to avoid some of the hype and merchandising that he says has gotten out of hand.
“Even as a super-fan, the amount of marketing and merchandising out there is pretty sickening,” Buchholz said. “It’s everywhere. I didn’t know how badly I needed a Dodge Ram pickup until I saw the commercial with the John Williams song in the background.”
Kenyon resident Jeremy Horn will be dressed up as a stormtrooper today appearing on WCCO’s “This Morning” show. He also will be welcoming theater-goers at two screenings.
“It gets them in the mood to see the movie,” Horn said.