Theaters get ready for ‘menacing’ crowds

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    By KATHLEEN PARRISH

    “Star Wars” fans aren’t the only people anticipating the unveiling of the new film Wednesday.

    Select movie theaters around the country are awaiting the flood of avid “Star Wars” crowds. Movie theaters showing the new film have devoted months of preparation to the “Star Wars” cause.

    George Lucas’s film “The Phantom Menace” has created a wave of enthusiasm that only select theaters around the country are able to experience. Lucas chose only certain theaters that could show his latest film.

    “Lucas’ films, which are distributed by Fox, had full control over who got the ‘Star Wars’ film and how many prints they received. They were so nitpicky,” said Ray Bori, co-owner of Spanish 8 Theaters in Spanish Fork.

    Spanish 8 Theaters is one of three movie theaters in Utah Valley showing the unique “The Phantom Menace.” The other chosen theaters include Wynnsong in Orem and Water Gardens Cinema 6 in Pleasant Grove. All three movie theaters must abide by Lucas’ rules.

    “There is a huge list of rules,” Bori said. “For example, each print must be shown in our largest movie house. You have to play by the rules, though, if you want to get his next movie.”

    There are also rules on free passes, ticket sales and advertising, several Spanish 8 employees said.

    “Posters and merchandise came in waves. We got some back in December and let them hang until January,” Bori said. “Since everyone wants the posters, we had to destroy the posters or lock them up.”

    The rules and regulations of the upcoming “Star Wars” have a purpose.

    “It’s all a marketing tactic. It helps keep the hype and excitement strong. It definitely has a purpose,” Bori said.

    The extra preparation for “The Phantom Menace” leads to different reactions among movie theater employees.

    “Since so many people are coming, we have been doing a lot to prepare. We have to work more and there will be no days off once the movie comes out,” said Nita Worwood, an employee at Spanish 8. “I think it should be treated like any other movie.”

    “Most employees are upset. They say ‘Star Wars’ is ruining their lives,” said Jeremy Hancock, a projectionist at Spanish 8. “We have to do a lot of extra preparation like longer hours and increased availability. New employees have been hired just because of ‘Star Wars.’ In fact, management has regular meetings to keep everything organized.”

    However, Hancock isn’t among the unhappy employees. He is working at Spanish Eight because of “Star Wars.”

    “The only reason I’m still working here is because I wanted to see ‘Star Wars’ first and I wanted to see it free,” Hancock said. “I’m totally excited. Since I’m a projectionist, I get to be a part of showing the movie to other people who like it. That makes me happy.”

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