THUNDER BAY – Jawas, stormtroopers and BB-8 were out in full force on Thursday night, as Star Wars fans celebrated the release of the Rise of Skywalker.
Fans flocked to Thunder Bay’s SilverCity Cinemas, eager to see how director J.J. Abrams handled the end of the nine-movie franchise.
Darren Cano was among the first to arrive on Thursday night, joining dozens of others in full costume in anticipation, an event he helped organize in celebration of all things Star Wars.
“We have tons of people excited for this movie. As you can see, we have lots of costumed people behind us from the 501st Legion,” Cano said.
“We’ve been pumped about this movie for quite a while, to kind of close out the franchise. We love seeing other fans come out and dress up. It’s going to be an awesome event tonight and we’re really looking forward to the turnout.”
The Rise of Skywalker hits the silver screen more than 42 years after Star Wars’ initial 1977 release.
Die-hard fans, who complained about the ending to the previous installment, The Last Jedi, were hoping for a storyline that stuck more to the Star Wars universe canon, relying less on surprises, like the death of Luke Skywalker.
They also hit the theatre looking for answers to several questions, most notably the origin of Rey, the female Jedi poised to keep the order alive.
The movie’s multiple trailers created a whole new batch of questions, notably Rey apparently turning to the dark side of the Force and C-3PO declaring he was looking at his friends for the last time.
Heather Dickson, the chair of the annual ThunderCon event, was also on hand for Thursday’s opening night.
It’s exciting, she said.
“This is the premiere for Thunder Bay. Everybody’s got the energy. We’re all jazzed about it and I think the whole city is turning out over the next few days. It’s bringing back your inner child. You get to be that kid again, that fan,” Dickson said.
Being one of the first to see the film is also pretty cool, she added.
“I think there is something about a premiere, or a first showing of anything, right? Because you’re on the cutting edge and there’s an energy – it’s not be out two weeks and everybody’s seen it and they’re going back to see it again, which is still fun,” Dickson said.
“But that opening night, there’s an energy, that red carpet thing. We don’t really get that in Thunder Bay, but at SilverCity, you get that.”
According to Box Office Pro, The Rise of Skywalker is expected to gross up to $190 million domestically, down from the $220 million collected by The Last Jedi two years ago. The Force Awakens, the first movie in the final trilogy, grossed $247.9 million on opening weekend.