DSOTF Presents: Movie Theater Memories


Welcome back to DSOTF and this month’s Monthly Staff Writer’s Poll! Our entire team has come together to share various stories of seeing Star Wars movies the way they were meant to be seen… in the theater.

Every Star Wars fan over the age of twelve should be fortunate enough to have seen at least one of the six films at their local cinema, in their lifetime. We all have fond memories of the first time we heard that fantastic Star Wars main title by John Williams fill the entire theater.

First, let’s set the stage. We need to be in the proper mood before we get too far.

Picture yourself in a darkened theater, surrounded by hundreds of fellow fans. You’re all eagerly awaiting the premiere of a new STAR WARS film. You’ve sat through all of the trailers, the lights dim and that legendary 20th Century Fox title screen appears…

What follows are the personal tales of witnessing Star Wars appearing on the BIG screen, from some of our staff writers here at Dork Side of the Force.

We hope that you all enjoy these stories of our favorite Star Wars movie theater memories…

Ryan Donoho and his lovely wife, Kate.

"“Being born in 1993, I have been able to experience every Star Wars in the theater that has come out since the original trilogy. I have vague memories of going in 1997 with my dad to see the special editions, and leaving the theater in shock with what I had just seen.My most fond memory is going from store to store at six years old, seeing Star Wars make a ferocious comeback right before Episode I. My dad and I went on opening day to see The Phantom Menace and that is still my favorite theater experience — even beyond Star Wars — that I’ve ever had. I remember when the crawl started and the crowd went nuts. I remember being amazed that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s lightsabers could go through a door. And yes, as a six year old, I loved Jar Jar.Seeing Episode I on opening day in ’99 will always be my favorite theater experience.”~ Ryan Donoho"

DSOTF staff writer Kyle Warnke.

"“Revenge of the Sith wasn’t my first Star Wars experience in a theater, and it damn sure won’t be my last. But it was the first time that I saw a COMPLETE Star Wars film at the cinema. I remember trying to drag my friends to go see it with me. They shared my disappointment in the first two prequels and were reluctant to shell out money again in fear of seeing the movie further tarnish the franchise. But I knew I had to watch Lucas finish his journey. And it was worth it. Episode III has its flaws but unlike its predecessors, it successfully mines the tragedy of the prequel era to take the series to a place it never quite reached before. I’m so glad I got to experience that at the same time as other fans around the world.”~ Kyle Warnke"

Eric Crisp, a staff writer at DSOTF.

"Summer, 1983.My grandmother was not a person who taught me restraint. She let my brother and I do whatever we wanted within reason. While at her house, we would stay up all night watching horror movies our parents would never let us watch, play video games for hours on end, and eat dessert until we were sick. There were few boundaries.So in the summer of ’83 I used this permissiveness to see Return of the Jedi as many times as possible. I’m pretty sure we went to the theater every time I was with her that summer and on one occasion we came out of the movie, bought another ticket, and walked right back in to watch a second, glorious time.Even with all of those viewings, I remember the experiences of each. I felt the thrill of seeing Luke Skywalker for the first time since The Empire Strikes Back, as he walks into Jabba’s palace. A shiver would go up and down my spine every time Darth Vader would call Luke “Son” and Luke didn’t argue. I’m man enough to admit that I would get a single tear in my eye, every time that little Ewok would try to wake his dead friend. I remember my hatred for the Emperor’s genius when he revealed that he already knew about the Rebels’ planned attack on the Death Star, and my disdain for the phrase “fully operational when your friends arrive.” [I know you just heard him say it…] I had a knot in my stomach when Luke was lying on the ground, surrounded by blue lightning. I slid to the edge of my seat as Vader’s head swiveled back and forth between his Master and his Son. And I exploded with excitement, every time Vader reached over and hoisted that evil little man above his head and tossed him into the depths of the Death Star. I was always ready for that Ewok dance party.1983 was a formative summer for me in my Star Wars journey and I would say our lack of restraint wasn’t all bad.Thanks, Grandma.~ Eric Crisp"

The wonderfully talented Sarah Woloski, DSOTF staff writer.

"May, 1999 – the year I graduated high school. The week of final exams. Those last days of crazy studying before the complete freedom of summer after High School. THAT was when The Phantom Menace was released. May 18, 1999 – I put my pen down on the last AP/IB English final, threw my books in my Star Wars sticker-adorned backpack and raced out the door to our local theater. The line to get into the midnight show wrapped around the building. I joined some other high school friends in a cozy spot towards the back. We were so excited! Not only were we all graduating, we also got the one-two punch of capping off our formative years with the FIRST NEW STAR WARS FILM IN 16 YEARS. That night, we made friends with all the people in line around us. We played a Star Wars trivia card game, compared Star Wars t-shirts, and wondered just what we were going to see in a few hours! Finally, the moment was upon us. People were screaming and cheering in the packed house. “Lucasfilm” flashed on the screen and faded, and everyone held their breath in complete silence. Then… “STAR WARS!” I remember walking out of the theater in a daze, my mind reeling with Amidala’s costumes, Duel Of The Fates music, Darth Maul’s lightsaber. When Darth Maul activated his second lightsaber in that unforgettable shot, the whole audience gasped. I had no idea what the plot was about, because there was too much to take in! But, I knew that I loved it. And with that, my Star Wars-filled summer of freedom began.~ Sarah Woloski"

DSOTF editor Daniel Berry, pictured here with his Jedi kitten Ahsoka Pawno.

"“Two weeks before summer break of my sophomore year in high school, Greg McGowin and I skipped class in order to procure tickets for the May 19th premiere of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.Greg and I met at his house in the early morning, before classes began on that fateful Friday. He told his mother that we were headed off to school, per usual. We drove to the entrance of his neighborhood but instead of taking a left towards West Orange High, we went left… off towards the AMC Pleasure Island Theaters at Walt Disney World, the biggest cinema in town at that time.The two of us arrived at the theater sometime around 8:00 am to find hundreds of fans already lined up outside the box office ticket windows.You see kids, back in those days… purchasing movie tickets in advance wasn’t as simple as a few taps on your iPhone’s Fandango app. No! We were required to show up to the theater in person and wait for hours before the box office opened, to insure that we could purchase our tickets before they sold out.Greg and I certainly did not mind the wait. We met all types of interesting Star Wars fans that day, all camped out along the sidewalk, baking in the hot Florida sun.Sure enough, we scored our tickets for the opening day premiere of The Phantom Menace. I think I bought about twelve tickets all told, for all of my friends who refused to skip school and were counting on me to get theirs.The wait was certainly worth it. The Phantom Menace blew me away the first time I saw it. I ended up returning to the cinema a total of FOURTEEN times to watch the movie before it was pulled. That’s how much I enjoyed that movie… and I still enjoy it, to this day.The memories of watching Episode I in the theaters will always be special, but not nearly as special as the anticipation that Greg McGowin and I felt while we waited for hours out at Disney World just to get our tickets, a week in advance.Those were different times.~ Daniel Berry"

What are some of your favorite Star Wars movie theater memories, Dork Siders? Please leave us a comment below, and tell us!

Let us know how excited you are for the release of Star Wars: Episode VII! Where do you plan on seeing it for the first time? Who will be going to the theaters with you? How many times do you think you’ll pay to watch it?

Here’s to memories both old and new! May the Force be with you!