By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Millions have been counting down the days for the long anticipated return of the galactic saga known to many generations as “Star Wars.”
Celebration Cinema in Benton Harbor has been prepping for the release and decided to throw in a few fan favorites for opening night Thursday.
General Manager Dan Rimpel said while the national release is Friday, many theaters – including the Celebration in Benton Harbor – will have several pre-showings of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
“We’re going to have a lot of pre-shows that are starting here,” Rimpel said. “The 7 p.m. is the first showing, but that’s already sold out. The next one after that is a 7:45 p.m. showing, which is sold out.”
Other than the first two showings, Rimpel said the others Thursday night are still available. Celebration will have several showings, with the last one being at 10:30 p.m.
The newest entry into the “Star Wars” canon will be shown on eight different screens through opening night and the first weekend. Rimpel said of those eight screens, two will be dedicated to 3D and one auditorium will have D-Box.
“We have so many show times that it is hard to predict how many sold-out shows we’ll have,” Rimpel said. “We do anticipate the crowds to be pretty big. For opening night and the first weekend, we’ll have 23 shows. There are plenty of tickets available. A lot of people get that preconceived notion that everything will be sold out – but it won’t be.”
Celebration Cinema will do something special for opening night as well. Rimpel said they will have people dressed as Darth Vader and Chewbacca to interact with guests who are there to see Episode VII.
Fans will have a photo opportunity with a “Star Wars”-themed backdrop in the lobby.
“This is going to be the first time we are going all-out with characters and photo ops,” Rimpel said. “It will be a different experience this time around. However, all regular ticket prices will apply. We’re not charging extra to be the first ones to see it.”
A Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids is doing something special for the most die-hard of fans.
The Star Wars Marathon Event will show all seven movies in chronological order. Guests will see each of the six previously released “Star Wars” episodes in digital 2D beginning with “The Phantom Menace” before concluding with the opening of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 3D.”
That marathon has a run time of 1,050 minutes, with the first movie starting at 4 a.m.
Moviegoers are allowed to dress up as their favorite Star Wars character, but costumes must fall within safety guidelines for Celebration.
According to the theater’s website, any masks, decorations or make-up that completely obscure the face are not allowed on guests over the age of 12. Costumes or clothing that could reasonably make others uncomfortable are not allowed.
Any weapons that are real or fake – including light sabers – are also not allowed.
“That’s part of the experience for some of our guests,” Rimpel said. “However, we will be enforcing our costume policy to not compromise the safety and comfortability of our guests. We don’t allow masks or replica weapons. Make-up and face paint is OK, but it cannot cover the face completely or be too intrusive that it might scare anybody.”
To learn more about dress codes or buying tickets beforehand visit www.celebrationcinema.com.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 17, 2015)