LIHUE — The first notes of The Imperial March echoed across the speakers in front of Kukui Grove Cinema at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and a cheer rose from the crowd of about 20 people waiting outside.
“I’ve been here since 1 p.m. and I got off work for this,” said Jobe Allen, who snagged the inaugural place at the front of the line for the 7 p.m. advanced screening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
Allen has been watching the saga since he was a child and said he’s looking forward to see where 40 years of storytelling will lead.
He wasn’t alone at the front of the line for long. Nick Clarke arrived at the theater at about 1:30 p.m. from Kalaheo to stake his family’s spot in line.
“This movie is entirely more important than Rogue One,” Clarke said. “Something important is going to happen with Luke Skywalker.”
Jonathan Caspillo, of Anahola, said his favorite character is Skywalker and he couldn’t wait to see where his story leads.
“Luke, he’s the Jedi master now, especially with Yoda and Obi Wan gone,” Caspillo said. “Who once was the student is now the teacher.”
While he was eager to watch Skywalker’s journey in The Last Jedi, Caspillo said he was also wondering if he might tangle with the dark side in this installment.
“Something dark is going to happen. It’s because of the red letters (on the movie poster). With the red letters, that tends to mean someone’s turning to the dark side,” he said.
Kirra Value, of Kapaa, guessed the dark side’s allure would be on display in The Last Jedi, but it’s Rey, not Skywalker, that she thinks is going to think of turning.
She arrived at Kukui Grove on Thursday afternoon dressed as a two-toned Rey, one side of her costume representing the light side of Rey and the other side representing the dark side.
“I’m a conflicted Rey,” she said.
Value attended the movie with her friend Franceska Formanova, of Moloaa, who dressed as a Pantoran smuggler — a species that doesn’t make a big appearance in any of the Star Wars movies.
She mirrored the race’s blue skin with blue face paint, complimented by a lavender wig and a smuggler’s costume, complete with a blaster.
“They’re in the books and the TV show,” she said. “I like the colors.”
Also interested in the Star Wars fan fiction was Lauren Freundt, of Koloa, who was holding a space in line for the rest of her family and wearing a Star Wars T-shirt.
“I’m really into the Star Wars books,” she said. “It’s so original and when Star Wars was first made, science fiction wasn’t really popular. It’s so creative and it inspires me that George Lucas created it when it wasn’t a thing.”
She said she’s expecting something weird from The Last Jedi and is also expecting someone to tangle with the dark side.
“My favorite character is Darth Vader,” she said. “I like that he, in the end, became good again and he saved Luke. He’s a strong character, even though his motives weren’t good. Vader has to be everyone’s favorite villain.”
Honoring Carrie Fisher, who died Dec. 27, 2016, was very important for everyone in line on Thursday, and tinged the atmosphere with a sense of sorrow and deep respect.
Clarke said his wife would be attending the first showing dressed as Leah with a picture of Fisher.
“I wish people would value these people more while they are alive,” he said.
Caspillo said thinking of Fisher’s final scenes brings “a tear to my eye,” and Freudnt said she was looking forward to the actress’s last appearance on the big screen.
“Carrie Fisher’s death definitely was upsetting,” Freundt said. “I’m excited to see the last of her acting in this movie.”
Movie goers met family and friends holding spots in line as the afternoon waxed on, and the anticipation reached detectable levels outside the theater.
Kimberly Formanova, Franceska’s mom, said she expected enthusiasts wouldn’t stop talking about The Last Jedi for at least a year — including her daughter — and she is setting up a Star Wars meet-up group for teenagers who want to chat.
Any teenagers interested in being part of that can email her at email@example.com.
“I’m so excited,” Freudnt said as she settled into her chair, listening to the iconic music. “I’m ready for another movie to obsess over.”