January 23rd, 2016 was the day I paid my farewells to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In the end, I saw it 8 times. This is the story of my adventures with Episode 7.
Screening 1: Showcase Cinemas Seekonk, MA Thursday December 17th, 2015. 7:30PM
The long awaited day had arrived. 3 years and 2 months after the announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm, Star Wars 7 was released. We arrived at the theater HOURS early, securing a great place in the theater. The appointed time had arrived. The theater went dark. The trailers began….
This is what the screen looked like. The trailers and film were corrupted. After 4 aborted starts, we realized that there was an excellent chance that we would not be seeing the movie. Thanks to cell phones, I discovered that the cinema in Providence had some seats open for a 10:40 show. After 50 minutes of delays, I bought the tickets, and left the theater. They gave me a refund and a free pass for the future. A good act on their part…or so I thought. (see screening 6)
Screening 1 (take 2): Showcase Cinemas Providence, RI Thursday December 17th, 2015. 10:40PM
We raced across town and made it to the Providence Place Mall, and got into line for the 10:40 show. Decent placement as we were a little under 2 hours early. We regaled our line pals with tales of the faulty screening and prepared to see the amazing movie. However, what happened next could have been VERY bad. The early screenings were coming out, and they were walking RIGHT PAST our line. Eyes closed, and fingers in ears, we blocked out the barrage of conversation of the excited film goers who wanted to share their love with us. We managed to survive the first salvo, but what happened next could have sunk us.
The local news set up a camera and lights down the hall. They were interviewing people walking out of the theater. It was okay. They were down the hall. Then they moved closer, and we began to get angry. Then they moved DIRECTLY IN FRONT of us. As the reporter was trying to interview people, some of the people in line began screaming obscenities, making her footage useless. She moved along. I am not proud to have participated, but it saved the crowd from spoilers. We made it in, the screening was not corrupted. It was amazing. Most future screenings would not be this eventful. prepare yourselves.
Screening 2: Showcase Cinemas Providence Place- Providence, RI Friday December 18th, 2015. 7:30PM
After seeing the film, we bought tickets immediately. We returned the next night for another screening with our pal Chad in providence. Full House again.
Screening 3: Showcase Cinemas Warwick Mall- Warwick, RI Saturday December 19th, 2015. 3:30PM
Deciding to sneak in one more viewing that weekend, we met with our friend Dennis at a local mall. It was bizarre in that it was just before christmas and the mall was PACKED. Theaters all across the area were selling out, but this one was 1/4 filled. It was our first 3D viewing. It looked good, not the annoying sort of 3D.
Screening 4: Jordan’s Furniture IMAX- Reading, MA Saturday January 2nd, 2016. 1PM
Earlier in 2015, I had read an article about the 6 best theaters in the world to see Star Wars in. There was one overseas, and the rest were strewn across the south and western US. Not where I live. Back in the prequel era, Digital cinema was all the rage. We made the 45 minute drive to Randolph, MA to see them in Digital. It was mind-blowing compared to film. I made my peace with the fact that I would not be able to see Star Wars 7 in LASER PROJECTED IMAX 3D. Until the week of release. After the Saturday screening, I came across an article titled “The 8 best theaters to see Star Wars in”. 2 new theaters?! Yes! and one was 1 hour and 12 minutes away from me!? Were we going to do this? YES we are!
We made the drive up, got some lunch and walked into the theater 30 minutes early… and were in the 3rd row from the front. Heads craned upwards, moving from side to side, it looked beautiful. But the closeness of the screen created glare on the lenses and there was some image issues noticable, similar to being too close to the TV. However, it still looked great.
Screening 5: Showcase Providence Place IMAX- Providence, RI Sunday January 3rd, 2016
As we were walking out of the Laser showing, we sat down in the rear, center, to check the quality of the end credits. They looked awesome. We decided to go to the local “normal” IMAX cinema to check out the quality. We got some lunch and headed over to the theater. It looked great in IMAX, but the image and colors were not as vibrant as the Laser screening. Even more noticeable were the blacks. The darkness in this film was TRUE black. That is a benefit of Laser. This theater also has an edge over the other 7 Laser theaters as it has sub-woofers in the seats, causing the chair to rumble with each explosion and jump to hyperspace. It was incredible We realized that we needed to see it again. Up North.
Screening 6: Showcase Cinemas- Seekonk, MA Wednesday January 13th, 2016. 7:30PM
I organized a screening with some friends. Many were invited. Only 1 showed. I got over that fairly quickly as I was about to see this amazing movie again. This was at the same theater that had the image issues on my first screening. Using my free pass for that debacle, we sat down to the WORST viewing of the film. The other local theater in Providence is SO CONSISTENTLY good. This location used to be great. I was willing to overlook the incident of the first screening, but this film was badly projected. It was “zoomed in”, cutting off the top, bottom, and sides of the film. It ruined several shots, and cut off the subtitles. Confused people in the theater were talking over them, trying to tell each other what they thought the aliens were saying. Then, the icing on the cake. A man walked in near the end of the film and sat down in the front row. He started browsing his phone, on full brightness. He then started taking video and photos of the screen. He was taking photos with flash on. I asked him to please stop. He told me to go fuck myself. The perfect ending to the showing. I have one more free pass for this theater. Once that is used, they are banned for life.
Screening 7: Jordan’s Furniture IMAX- Reading, MA Sunday January 17th, 2016. 2PM
My final screening! After arriving late for the last Laser IMAX attempt, we made an effort to get to the theater early for this screening. We picked up our pal, and it took longer than expected. We got there 45 minutes early. While we managed to score seats in a middle row, we were at the end of the row, causing some strange warping on the screen due to it’s size and shape. The sub-woofer in my seat was broken as well. It looked SO much better than the first showing, but we were so close to the goal of seeing this in perfect conditions, but fell short. The film is leaving IMAX the weekend of the 24th. We had one more shot.
Screening 8: Jordan’s Furniture IMAX- Reading, MA Saturday January 23rd, 2016. 4PM
The screening was at 4. We left the house at 12:30. We arrived 1:40. We got lunch and hopped into line at 2PM. We were second in line. We were let in at 3:40 and we got center seats, 4th row from the top. PRIME location. The dream seats. The sub-woofer worked.
The screening was perfect. The image and sound was astounding. It was 100% worth the repeated attempts. This is the BEST way to see Star Wars, and I hope there are many more Laser IMAX screens for future installments. Now, having seen the movie, we could go home happy. Through the Blizzard of 2016.
The 72 minute drive is a bit longer when driving in a blizzard. The brunt of the storm was supposed to hit far south of our RI home. It ended up tracking north. This caused northern Massachusetts to be caught slightly unprepared for the snow, and the highways were not good at all. 2 1/2 hours later, we made it home. All in all, it was a 9+ hour affair, and the entire day was used up. It was worth it. No regrets.
This ends my love affair with The Force Awakens. We started with a full house, and now we ended with a full house. The circle is now complete. Thank you Disney. Thank you Lucasfim. Thank you JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and everyone else involved in the film. I’ll see you in December.