By Michael Grass
Daily News Editor
Daily Arts Writer
COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. - "It's not about being first in
line, it's about Star Wars," LSA sophomore Jon Serman said from his
tent ia, front of United Artists' Commerce Township theater last
Serman and thousands of others who were lined up at Metro
Detroit and Ann Arbor theaters were only a few hours away from pur-
chasing tickets for "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace."
Serman and his friend Kevin Grant, a recent University graduate,
drew the attention of the local media when they camped out in front
of the theater starting at 5:00 p.m. last Monday.
The two came prepared with a tent, lawn chairs, television, VCR
and a full size barbecue grill, items commonly found with "Star
Wars" fans lined up at theaters nationwide.
ForDearborn resident John Long, the first person in one ofbthetwo
lines at Ann Arbor's Showcase Theater, being one of the first at the
theater to purchase a ticket was worth tolerating the morning rain.
In 1977, Long had been one of the first in line to purchase tickets
for the-original "Star Wars."
Long began to count-
down as the final moments of waiting were comin to a close.
Management at Showcase Ann Arbor told Long and others who
arrived the night before that they would have to wait in their cars
parked in the parking lot.
But at 4:00 a.m., two hours before they weresupposed to begin lin-
ing up, Long and others ran up to the doors of the theater.
By the afternoon, more than 400 people were lined up around the
For Serman, missing two days of spring term classes at the
University to join Grant in line is not a major sacrifice. "Its some-
thing I've been waiting for all my life," he said.
The scene at Southfield's massive Star Theater complex had the
atmosphere of a refugee camp where about 1,000 people squatted in
the misting rain behind a barricade that wrapped around the side of
the building. As television and radio crews swarmed in the parking
lot, a cluster of fans broke out in a rendition of the Star Wars theme
Like at the Ann Arbor Showcase, the management of Star
Southfield would not allow an official line to form until 6:00 a.m.,
but gave out number tags to those waiting in line to reduce confusion
when tickets went on sale.
Roseville resident Gary Rock had arrived at the theater at 6:45 a.m.
to hold his nephew's place in line while he was in school. He said he
and his nephew are looking forward to "The
Phantom Menace" with great anticipation.
"The way they put the 'Star Wars' films
together is incredible' Rock said, adding
that "it will be just as good (as the original
trilogy) because there will be all new
Substitue teacher Sharon Laing, a former Albion
College student, said she is missing work to get tickets for
twenty of her friends at the Star Southfield. Laing said she
and her friends from college were always enamored with
Harrison Ford's character, Han Solo from the original tril-
ogy. "We used to have a life-size cardboard figure of Han
Solo in our apartment," she said.
Many of those waiting in line said they trust Lucas to
produce a stunning movie. "George Lucas has been a
great influence on my life," said Josef Plosky, a student
at the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan.
"The world of Star Wars sticks with you through your
life," Plosky said.
Although he arrived at 3:30 a.m. at the theater, he was
only able to get 358th place in line. "Its a kids movie, but
So the all-mighty George Lucas put an embargo on reviews of
'Phantom"s screening. But we still got to see 'Star Wars' a week
before these die-hards and didn't have to wait in the rain for tickets.
all these people were a part of the original," Plosky said.
"The fans need to get it out of their system," he said. The crowd at
Ann Arbor Showcase began to cheer as the management let the first
25 people in line into the theater at 3:00 p.m. to purchase tickets.
"We want everyone to becalm and orderley," a Showcase security
officer announced over a public address system.
When Long exited the theater with 12 tickets for the movie's first
showing in hand, he held them up to those still in line, yelling and
screaming. "Two days of waiting ... it was so worth it," he said.
Long said he and his friends would line up two hours before show-
ing time to ensure they would get the best seats in the theater.
After the fans have satisfied their longings and had their full of
"Episode I," they will return to work or school and will be able to get
on with their lives in a peaceful state of mind - at least until
"Episode II" is released.
In a galaxyfar, far away ... Hollywood'sfanaics blur 1ine be
By Dena Krischer
LOS ANGELES - If there were
only one showing, it might be easier
Last Wednesday in Westwood --
UCLA's downtown Ann Arbor - at
12 noon precisely, tickets went on
sale at three of Westwood's seven the-
aters for the two-hour flick. No, not a
two-hour flick, a two-hour phenome-
non: "Star Wars: Episode I - The
Phantom Menace," AKA the biggest
thing to hit Los Angeles since the
earthquake in '94.
Over 1,500 people wound around
three olocks and stopped at least eight
or nine blocks of traffic as they tried
to claim their ticket. About 50 of them
sported a "Hello, my name is" sticker
with "Star Wars Line 1" where their
name should have been.
The first person in line, and possi-
bly first person in the world to buy his
maximum of twelve tickets was, 17-
year-old Daniel Alter.
"Wooooooo!" Alter yelled, jumping
in place, looking at his new found for-
tune with disbelief.
Alter started it all. He was the first
one in the world to even start a line.
Although he unfolded his beach chair
at 7 p.m. on April 7, he had his line
started long before that.
The "Hello, my name is" sticker-
bearers were guaranteed them tickets
to the first showing. Among the stick-
er-bearers was a tall male by the name
of Wes Eckhart who repeatedly gave
out high-fives to fellow sticker-bear-
ers after they successfully purchased
"This is so cool," Eckhart said.
Over a year and a half ago, 26-year-
old Eckhart and his lifelong friend
Nigel Mills teamed up with Alter and
organized a group of Star Wars fanat-
ics, friends and co-workers that would
willingly sit, eat and sleep outside of
Fox Theater in Westwood for 41 days
before the selling of tickets began.
The city approved of this, too.
They had to - it was the theater's
property, and the theater allowed it.
Alter developed a close relationship
with the owner after being the first
person in line for every opening night
since he was 14. The force was with
"At first, we were just going to
tween lfie and art
camp out for the week before,"
Eckhart said. "But Danny called and
told us we needed a 30-day jump. We
would have started two days earlier,
but it was raining and we didn't want
our stuff to explode."
For 41 days, the group alternated
shifts, watching the equipment, pro-
tecting the life-size Hans Solo card-
board cutout and taking a lot of chid-
"LssuuILsuesuke, I am your father," couesy of swars.com
rumbled the loudspeaker of a passing
cop car. "It's 'Star Wars,"' Alter replied.
"This is amazing," Alter said with a "Enough said."
look of triumph in his eyes. But that doesn't explain the exten-
"Absolutely amazing." sive wait. There are people here who
But the movie will probably last in have stood in line for only three
the theaters longer than Titanic did, so See L.A., Page 1
why the bia fuss?