‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Strikes Austin

The 501st Legion, a group of Star Wars enthusiasts, greets moviegoers before the 7 p.m. premiere.

Ten minutes to showtime, a marching band followed by legions of storm troopers and Jedi knights paraded in front of the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar into the crowded theater to celebrate the opening of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in Austin. 

The long-awaited film premiered tonight at theaters across the country. Directed by J.J. Abrams, it is the seventh installment in the epic series, set 30 years after 1983’s ‘Return of the Jedi.’ It stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong’o.

Star Wars prequels have had mixed reviews by enthusiasts over the years, and many at the showing tonight expressed excitement at a sequel at last.

“I’m curious to see if Luke comes back,” Kirin Vieira says. “Where has Luke been all this time?”

Vieira and her son Enzo have been binge-watching the previous six films in anticipation of tonight’s premiere. They don Darth Vader and Boba Fett costumes. And they are in good company.

Storm troopers, bike scouts, Sith Lords and Darth Vaders from the 501st Legion were at the theater beginning at 4:30 p.m. to greet moviegoers. The 501st legion is a group of costume enthusiasts who do volunteer work in the community.  

Mike Nottebart and @misunderstoodnight showed up promptly with light sabers for tonight’s Star Wars premiere.

But the 501st weren’t the first ones at Alamo today. The Drafthouse began screening a Star Wars marathon at 4:50 a.m., showing all 6 movies in preparation for the 7 p.m. premiere.

Crystal Campbell caught a quick smoke break outside, wearing her pajamas. She wanted to be comfortable for the 17-hour marathon. 

“I want to see what happens with Luke,” she says. “If he goes full dark side or good side.”

Christopher Schmitt comes dressed as Chewbacca with girlfriend Ari Stiles – against the grain in ‘Star Trek’ gear.

The film has already been reviewed by the American-Statesman, but we’ll leave you with no spoilers here. Most showings at the Drafthouse are sold out this weekend – unless you want to go really early or really late.

If you don’t have tickets and just want to take in the vibe, head down to South Lamar. There are screenings all night and a Cantina Cover Band Jamboree at The Highball until 1:30 a.m.

May the force be with you.

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