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Fans show up in droves for Star Wars
Area residents excited for latest entry in franchise
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Jordan Smith and Miranda Poss stand in line for opening night of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens" Thursday night at Regal Hollywood 15 Cinemas in Gainesville. The couple bought tickets for the movie online just minutes after they were available for sale. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Jordan Smith and girlfriend Miranda Poss were nervous about even leaving home during the day. They didn’t want anything to happen that would keep them from missing the premiere of Thursday night’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

The Oakwood couple made it to the opening-night showing of the latest “Star Wars” movie at Regal Hollywood 15 Cinemas in Gainesville with time to spare, joining a line that was long nearly an hour before showings of the film even began.

Hollywood Cinemas had eight showings, including five in 3D, on Thursday night. The theater has 21 scheduled showings for today, starting as early as 9 a.m. and as late as 11:20 p.m.

Smith, who wore a Darth Vader costume not including a mask, has been a “Star Wars” fan since he was a little kid. His 22-month-old son’s name is Anakin. He bought tickets online for opening night within three minutes of when they went on sale.

“It’s such a great story,” said Smith of the “Star Wars” series.

Early in their relationship, Smith had to get Goss to watch all of the films with him. Now she’s a big fan who bought a “Star Wars” jacket to wear to Thursday’s premiere.

It’s that kind of ardent fan support that has many in the industry expecting the movie to surpass the $208.8 million opening weekend of this summer’s “Jurassic World.” The latest “Star Wars” film earned more than $100 million from presale tickets alone.

Security measures were also in play Thursday in Gainesville as film patrons weren’t allowed to wear masks into the theater.

Steven McGowan of Gainesville was first in line for the 7 p.m. Thursday 3D showing at the theater. He said he arrived about 4:45 p.m. to make sure he got a good seat.

In addition to owning all the “Star Wars” films on Blu-ray Disc, McGowan has played all of the series’ video games, too. He was looking forward to seeing the character Darth Revan in the latest movie.

McGowan plans to see the film two or three times in theaters. There’s another movie he said he’d arrive more than two hours early to see: “Star Trek Beyond,” set for a July 22 release.

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