This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. It was pointed out that today is a) not the end of the world, and b) the 31st anniversary for a film that should, and will, be spotlighted.
May 27, 1980: What a difference three years make. Catching the first Star Wars film back in ’77 just up the street was almost breathtaking. Giddily so. What came after that, just a year later, definitely not. Few things prepare you, or mark you, better than Life. You now know why I really hate surprises.
When the sequel to Star Wars finally arrived in this Presidential election year (on a Wednesday, in fact), it would take almost an entire week before I’d get to see it. Since it was one of the most anticipated films… like ever… the studio and filmmakers did something heretofore unheard of.
The distributors had some of the designated flagship theaters run Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on a 24-hour schedule here in Los Angeles. From opening day and all the way through the elongated Memorial Day weekend, showtimes galore. The pre-sales and lines were ridiculous, to say the least. So much so, I and my girlfriend at the time held off until almost the end.
We, she-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered and I (now living together), awoke at 4 AM the day after the holiday. Dressing quickly (me for work), we arrived at the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre a bare half-hour before the 5:30 AM screening. Like its sister cinema, the Chinese Theatre, this movie palace was famed for so many historic Hollywood premieres. A fitting location, if there ever was one.
Afterward, I returned to work that Tuesday morning a changed man.