Movie theaters putting safety first for ‘Star Wars’ opening

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 23:37:16-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The countdown is on for Friday’s “Star Wars” movie opening. With tens of thousands of tickets sold, movie theaters are pulling out all the stops to give people an experience they won’t forget.

As many come lined up in their costumes, impersonating their favorite “Star Wars” characters, they might have to rethink their original ideas.

“We expect it to be the biggest opening we’ve had at Celebration Cinemas ever,” said Emily Loeks of Celebration.

Safety is on the forefront of management’s minds, especially with movie theater shootings in the past such as the recent one in Aurora, Colo., during “Batman” and a shooting in Louisiana during the movie “Train Wreck.”

May the force be with you Friday as you brave the crowds to see what is arguably one of the greatest movies of all time – well, at least in presale ticket sales at Celebration Cinemas.

“There are over 40,000 tickets that have been sold in our 10 multiplex theaters in West and Central Michigan, and a huge number of sold-out shows,” said Loeks.

One super fan that FOX 17 News talked with has been a loyal “Star Wars” fan for years, and he has the collection to prove it. Dennis Nagelkirk of Grand Rapids has been counting down the weeks to the opening with a six-week movie showing at his home of each “Star Wars” film with action figures for an added experience.

He also unwrapped a packaged “Star Wars” figurine that he’s had for years before each movie as a tradition.Nagelkirk will be seeing the new movie twice. Though he’s a devoted fan, he’ll just be sporting a “Star Wars” T-shirt.
“I think there definitely should be restrictions. Not to ruin anybody’s fun, but in this day and age we’ve got to be safe,” he said.
Celebration Cinemas are encouraging people to dress in costume, but there will be restrictions for how they can decorate their costumes.

“We do encourage people to enjoy dressing up, but we just don’t want people to have on masks or carry anything that looks or appears to be a weapon,” said Loeks.

AMC and Alamo cinemas also have similar policies, including no face paint, but you can still bring your light saber. Theaters are asking customers to turn off their light sabers during the movie, however.

Update as of 11:30 PM, Celebration Cinemas are not sold out on all Friday shows they are adding other showtimes so people can view the film.