CINCINNATI — Pat Melugin was 9 years old when he first saw “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” in 1977.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, the 47-year-old amateur comedian stood first in line outside of AMC Theaters in Newport to see the film again -- along with the six sequels it spawned over more than 38 years.
“When you are a middle-aged nerd, this is the only marathon you can hope to finish,” Melugin said as he waited in line nine hours before the 1 a.m. Thursday start time of “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”
Melugin is not alone in his determination to sit through 16 hours and 40 minutes of “Star Wars” movies that culminate with the premier of “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” at 7 p.m. AMC sold out of tickets for the marathon screening well in advance of Thursday’s showing. A small band of hard core “Star Wars” fans had joined Melugin by 4 p.m. Those people offered a fair representation of the franchise’s fan base.
Brett Light, 27, waited about sixth in line with his friend Brittany, also in her 20s, who purchased the tickets for them. Light, who saw the original trilogy during a theatrical re-release in the mid-90s, considers the marathon a rare opportunity. For Brittany, the marathon was a chance to experience “a whole new world of nerd” as she watches the “Star Wars” films for the first time.
A mutual friend recruited Clint Copenhauer and Aaron Jones, both 39, to relive childhood memories that included seeing “Return of the Jedi” in theaters and Kenner “Star Wars” toys in the mid-1980s. Copenhauer joked that he told his wife, pregnant with twins, what he planned to do in front of family, figuring “she wouldn’t kill me in front of her sister-in-law.”
Whether or not the marathon will kill Copenhauer, Melugin, and Light is another question. That's why each agreed to share occasional updates of their “Star Wars” marathon experience in the box below.
And may the Force be with them.