‘Star Wars’ draws crowd to Grand Cinema
By Scott Bellile
Moviegoers in New London were calmly excited for the premiere of Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Grand Cinema Theatres on Thursday, Dec. 17.
People trickled into the theater during the couple hours leading up to the 7 p.m. premiere, and few dressed up as “Star Wars” characters. But the film still had sold around 100 tickets by 3 p.m. that day to give the cinema strong business.
With 440 seats in the Grand Theatre, Grand Cinema Theatres manager Sydni Williams said New London moviegoers realize they don’t have to camp out days beforehand or stand in line for hours because the Grand never sells out.
Rick Gambsky of Iola said he enjoyed the premiere and the ease of getting tickets in New London.
“I had adrenaline rushes throughout the movie and felt like a kid again,” Gambsky said. “Some of my friends waited hours at other theaters to get in. But New London let us grab seats hours in advance. Nice, warm, cozy seats.”
“Star Wars” will play for at least another three weeks in the Grand Theatre and could stick around longer depending on sales. The film grossed $238 million from weekend sales in the U.S. and Canada alone to set a new weekend record.
Disney’s contract with all cinemas requires “Star Wars” be played in the building’s largest theater, Williams said. Disney also limits early screenings, or “quality checks,” to one or two managers only, punishable by a lawsuit or Disney withdrawing future films from that theater.
“We follow the rules because we don’t want to stop getting movies,” Williams said.
Williams previewed 20 minutes of the film for the quality check while projectionist Shawn Kargus watched it all. Kargus said as tempting as it was to share the news on social media he saw it before the public did, he didn’t out of concern friends would badger him for details.
“It’s like having a secret that you can’t share with anybody,” Kargus said.
Kargus said he was impressed with the “dynamite” 3-D effects and the storyline. A first-time “Star Wars” viewer will understand most of the film, he said.
“Star Wars” is now showing in New London at various times depending on the day. Check www.grandcinematheatres.com for show times.
John Faucher contributed to this article.