Whatcom fans embrace ‘The Force Awakens’
With the first showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Bellingham on Thursday evening, Dec. 17, Whatcom County residents got into the spirit with costume parties, showings of the previous six “Star Wars” films, and lining up to get into the theater.
One such costume event took place at Cascade Pizza on 2431 Meridian St., where owner Pete Primbas showed “Return of the Jedi” Thursday afternoon before heading off to see the latest installment in the Star Wars saga.
Primbas seemed to echo the feeling of many at the party that the series, which started nearly 40 years ago, represents a cultural touchstone.
“It played a big role in my life,” he said, noting that when he couldn’t go outside because of the weather as a child, he would settle in to watch the movies again. “I feel like with this (new movie), many people will take their kids and remember it forever.”
Hours before the first showings on Thursday dozens of fans braved the cold, drizzling rain outside the Barkley Village 16 movie theater, waiting to get a prime seat.
Scott Reeves drove from the Portland, Ore., area the previous day in order to see the movie with with his brother, Bellingham resident Matt Reeves. Scott Reeves was the first in line for the 7 p.m. showing, arriving just before 6 a.m.
“I’ve never been the first in line for any movie, but I decided to take off work for ‘Star Wars,’ ” he said.
Some people who arrived around 10 a.m. brought canopies, much to the appreciation of others standing in line. Having a covered place to sit, the group appeared to have bonded well by the afternoon, sharing plenty of jokes and playing video games while waiting to get into the theater.
One thing they weren’t talking about was the movie itself. Many said they had “gone dark” this week, staying off of social media to make sure they didn’t see any reviews or hints about the plot.
Kyle Easton of Bellingham said he didn’t seen any of the numerous movie trailers this year, hoping instead to be surprised by the film itself.
Some of the excitement surrounding the movie is because it had been away for years and wasn’t expected to return until Disney purchased the rights to the franchise in 2012.
Bellingham resident Sarah Kruhlak is one of those fans happy to see it come back. She joked that she has been a fan “since birth” and was raised on “Star Wars,” so she was quite willing to arrive early to get a good seat, saving spots for her friends.
She didn’t realize, however, that she would have to wait outside the theater, so her friends brought her extra jackets and blankets. At one point, a stranger dropped by, handing out slices of pizza to show support for those who were tolerating the rain.
“ ‘Star Wars’ nerds stick together,” she said.
AN EVENT FOR DIFFERENT GENERATIONS
Adults sharing something they so thoroughly enjoyed when they were children appears to be as strong as The Force that threaded its way through the previous six movies. For many people with children or grandchildren, figuring out the right age — and the correct order — to introduce the “Star Wars” saga is a big deal.
“I JUST WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO HAN, LEIA AND LUKE.”
-O. Shane Balloun, Bellingham lawyer
Bellingham lawyer O. Shane Balloun introduced the three original movies to his son, making sure he knew the basic story heading into the latest installment.
Balloun, who joined Primbas for the Cascade Pizza costume party, said that while the movie reconnects generations of family and friends, it’s also about taking a break from things like work and real world issues to have some fun.
“I just want to see what happens to Han, Leia and Luke,” Balloun said, referring to the main characters of the first three movies.
Also at the costume party was Cale Reynolds, who said the new movie is one of those events that can help different generations of family reconnect because people of all ages will find something to enjoy. He owns the auto licensing office in Ferndale and he’s had plenty of customers of different ages talking about the movie in the weeks leading up to the opening.
“The public is just so hyped to see this one,” he said.
Primbas, Reynolds and Balloun all said they’ve been trying to avoid new movie trailers, reviews and spoilers, and have tried to manage their expectations heading into the film. Like most fans, they have strong opinions about the first six films, and what worked and what didn’t.
“As long as I get a good, solid movie, I will be happy,” Reynolds said.