At 1 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, the first of all seven Star Wars films to be screened at AMC Theatres’ “Star Wars Marathon Event” began in participating cinemas across the United States. Short 15-minute breaks separated each film in the prequel and original trilogies, and two 90-minute intermissions between the trilogies and The Force Awakens let attendees stretch their legs or find food somewhere besides concessions. In total, this meant anyone foolhardy enough to buy the $60 ticket and go would be required to spend about 20 hours in a movie theater subsisting on a diet of Star Wars, popcorn and American-sized fountain drinks.
When I purchased my ticket back in October, I assumed that everyone at these marathons would fall into one of three categories.
- Adults with jobs who had enough vacation time to just not show up for a day or two.
- College students.
- The unemployed.
If I had been playing Star Wars marathon bingo, I would have checked off all three before making it past the front door. It was blatantly obvious what kinds of people were attending such an event, and their unabashed love for all things Jedi (or Sith) was out in force. But a fourth group was also in attendance, and its members were almost as populous as the others. Partial and entire multi-generational families were present. Not just older children and their parents, but young, school-aged children. On a school night.
The sight of little girls and boys dressed as Rey, Chewbacca, stormtroopers and countless other characters didn’t surprise me that much. Yet I was still taken aback when a young boy in a custom Star Wars t-shirt flew past me to catch up with his parents. Sure, the holiday break was just over a week away, but weren’t these young Padawans supposed to be in school in a few hours’ time?
“The truth is, if our kids have the chance to see their father following a dream and spend one day supporting him and being a part of the cultural phenomenon he’s involved with, then why not?” said Lani Voivod, whose husband Allen runs the Star Wars 7×7 podcast.
The Voivods brought their two boys, Joey and Declan, to the marathon to see their dad in action, but also to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience as a family. After Thursday’s movie-watching extravaganza, they joined an elite club of families who can now say they’ve watched every Star Wars movie ever made, new and old, together in theaters. There aren’t many people who can claim such a distinction.