French rush to new Star Wars movie premiere

18th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18 (AFP) - French-speaking "Star Wars" fans got a 24-hour intergalactic jump on the rest of the world Wednesday with the release of the space saga's final episode, as toy and video manufacturers geared up for a sales bonanza.

PARIS, May 18 (AFP) - French-speaking "Star Wars" fans got a 24-hour intergalactic jump on the rest of the world Wednesday with the release of the space saga's final episode, as toy and video manufacturers geared up for a sales bonanza.  

Cinemas around Paris and other major French cities were sold out for screenings of "Revenge of the Sith" which goes on general release on Thursday in the United States, most of Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia.  

The film swiftly rocketed into Paris box office records, with some 17,000 entrances in greater Paris since midnight and 120,000 spectators flooding to 300 cinemas across the country, Twentieth Century Fox said in a statement.  

That would make it the French capital's most popular premiere showing ever, the professional website CBO box office said.  

Outside the Grand Rex cinema in central Paris, which at the weekend hosted the first official European "Star Wars" convention, queues began building up from early Tuesday, with some people standing in line for 15 hours to get the best seats at sold-out midnight and 3:00 am showings.  

"This is like a rock concert, there is great excitement. It's not just a film, it's a show, a party," said Jean-Philippe Ghedja, brandishing his light-sabre and dressed as one of the saga's central characters Obi Wan Kenobi.  

"It was extraordinary to see so many people queuing for a midnight show," said Jean-Francois Porcher, director of the EuroPalace in the northern city of Nantes.  

In central Lyon, the Pathe cinema had been turning people away since midnight.  

"There were a lot of people for the morning shows, and we will have to turn people away this evening. People are now buying up places for the evening shows for the rest of the week," said deputy director Cecile Dumas.  

Several midnight shows were organised in Belgium too, with at least 1,500 fans turning up in eastern Liege and another 1,200 in south-western Mons.  

"Revenge of the Sith" is the last in the three-part prologue to the original "Star Wars" trilogy by director George Lucas, and brings fans back to the beginning telling how the evil Darth Vader moved over to the dark side.  

The first "Star Wars" burst onto global screens in 1977, and was a revelation for cinema audiences with its pioneering use of computer graphics and advanced techniques to create a whole new galaxy.  

"Revenge of the Sith" has won mixed reviews from critics, with some saying it shows Lucas back in top form after the first two deadly dull episodes of the prologue, while others have dismissed it as flat and futile.  

But for audiences spilling out of a Paris cinema at midday Wednesday as several hundred people queued impatiently for the next showing, there was little doubt about the verdict.  

"It's a masterpiece, everything is explained," enthused 21-year-old Sebastian Sanchez, who couldn't wait to see the movie again on Friday.  

"It's a great story, great music and all the links are made back to the beginning," agreed student, Guillaume Brichant, 20.  

Even the youngsters agreed. "It's great, I really loved it," said eight-year-old Theo, as his mum agreed that it really did bring the 28-year-old journey to a satisfying close.   Lucas said in London on Monday at a special charity screening attended by thousands of fans that he would "absolutely never" be tempted to pen another episode.  

"This Star Wars tells the story of Darth Vader, and now we've had his birth and his end, so that's it," he said. "I'm very relieved that the film is finished. It's one film now instead of six."  

A television series is however said to be in the offing and manufacturers are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospects of huge toy, video and video games sales.  

"We will have a lot more spin-offs than for the earlier films, even more than the last two films together," said a spokesman for The Licencing Company, which will handle the European copyright for products, expected to generate some USD 100 million (EUR 80 million) in turnover.  

Since 1977, the "Star Wars" series has generated some USD 9 billion in retail sales, almost three times the USD 3.4 billion taken in global box-office sales.



Subject: French News

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