CORTE MADERA, Calif. (KTVU) - This year’s ‘Star Wars’ premier is no less than a modern-day mother lode for film fans of all ages.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the first Star Wars film since Disney bought San Francisco-based Lucasfilm and the famous franchise in 2012.
For those who didn’t want to wait in long lines, it appears online reservations and advanced ticket sales were the way to go, but others wanted to experience the camaraderie of waiting in line with fellow light-saber baring fans.
"We're here mostly for the people and the experience of being in line; the excitement that gets built for the film before you get to see it," says Bert Holcombe, who was standing in line at Century Corte Madera Theater.
At Oakland's Grand Lake Theater, late Thursday morning, not a creature, nor a Wookie, was stirring, partially because the 2D and 3D first showings were already long sold out.
At the Orinda Theater, there were no lines even though tickets were still available. That was good news for one woman who's seen every ‘Star Wars’ movie, beginning with 1977’s Episode I, in a theater far away and long, long ago.
"I just remember the excitement of the crowd and everybody broke into cheers and that they did it in the beginning and they also did it in the end," says Karen Meredith.
Over the last 38 years, there have been seven Star Wars movies, two trilogies and the current release.
It is undeniably moviedom's most successful brand with the $440 million used to produce the last seven movies, returning 10 times that amount in ticket sales at $4.4 billion. That doesn’t even factor in other media properties, including souvenirs and toys sold under the movie’s brand.
"It's personal for a lot of people. A lot of people attach it to their childhood and so it just carries forward you know," says Holcomb.
"I think it's great. I think it's something people still enjoy spanning the test of time is great," says Meredith. "It resonates with the youth and it's a good story and it's something that's lasted generations now. So, we have the fans that are parents and the fans that are kids," says movie goer Jeff Wolf.
The new movie begins a third trilogy, with the second episode to be released in 2017 and the third in 2019.
One fun fact; this is the only ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film that was not released in May.
One woman, born well after the saga started, is nonetheless predicting how well this episode will do compared to the last seven.
"I suspect it will be better received than the prequel trilogy, but probably not as good as the original trilogy," says Kendra Pollock, who waited in line all day for the premiere.
By late afternoon in Corte Madera, the morning's small line had become full blown, around the theater, into the parking-lot event reflective of the record revenues many expect this film to make.
In the evening, lines of people stretched around San Francisco's Metreon building as fans came to see the premiere of the much-anticipated film, again, of course with light-sabers in tow.
Signs flashed "sold out" for most showings and fans bought up the few remaining seats, joining the long lines in the lobby, which resembled a Star Wars movie set with all of the costumed characters drifting through.
"I'm excited, I love the energy of the night. I love everyone dressing up," says Cathy Stolitzka of San Francisco who was dressed up like a Rebel fighter.
From Sith lords to other icons from the series, everyone has a favorite character.
Karla Dajano of Milpitas came dressed as Darth Vader, but admits she had another favorite.
"Actually R2-D2 is my favorite character. I think that he's my spirit animal. I like his noises and everything."
For some fans, the passion for the films is beyond skin deep. Matt Difa is a London tattoo artist who often works at Star Wars conventions. He took off his cap to show the intricate tattoo on his scalp.
"This is the Sith code. 'Peace is a lie there is only passion. My chains are broken, the force shall free me.' It took about eight hours of horror," he chuckles.
Difa came to the showing with a friend and fellow tattoo artist Mike Bianco from the Bay Area, who has a George Lucas tattoo on his leg, wearing mouse ears over his costume. Bianco also wore mouse ears over his costume.
"Since Disney and Star Wars are now together, what better way to celebrate it?" says Bianco.
The franchise is still going strong nearly four decades after the then little-known George Lucas created his now famous characters.
"Since I was 9-years-old. I fell in love with it. It was the first movie my mother let me see by myself. I've loved it all my life. I've never stopped loving it," says Shane Frogg of San Francisco.
Some people lined up since Wednesday night to see the entire Lucas legacy in a 1 p.m. marathon showing of all seven films.
"The action, the pace, somehow he was able to make that back in the 70's," says Kevin Reinhardt, who drove from Vallejo to attend the marathon showing.
For some the night was about more than the movie, as parents passed childhood memories on to their own children, the next generation of fans.
"I'm not going to lie, I cried a little bit. it was pretty emotional," says David Demember of Milbrae, describing his feelings as he watched the first Star Wars films with his 5-year-old son.
"I've seen the movies about 100 times each and it felt like watching them again for the first time with him, so we're excited to see the new one together," Demember says.
With such large crowds, many theaters are increasing security.
The Metreon is banning people from wearing masks into the theater.Some other theaters are also banning light sabers, blasters and have hired more security guards.
As for the film, many people said it exceeded their expectations.