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Article by Kate Bertin ~ Photo by Connie Brown
from The Independent Press, May 19, 2005

  The line for the midnight showing of Star Wars Episode III began forming in front of the Roxy Theatre at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

  Sure, the "line" was just one enthusiastic die-hard Star Wars fan at first, but it was a line, nevertheless. Harrison Richardson of Colstrip brought his chair, his sunglasses and his life-sized cardboard cutout of Princess Leia to make certain he was first in line for the final installment of the six-movie Star Wars series.

  Theater owner Mike Blakesley said that the midnight movie marks the first time the Roxy has been able to play any Star Wars film on opening night. Prior to this release, small town cinemas generally couldn't afford the terms, he said.

  "Until now, their rental terms were so strict and oppressive that a small-town place couldn't afford them," he said. Theaters showing the films on opening weekend were required to play them for four consecutive weeks. Now, those requirements have been dropped back to three weeks -- a long run for a small theater like the Roxy, but not completely impossible, Blakesley said.

  The midnight showing also is a first for the Roxy. Blakesley and his wife, Lynn, have "always wanted to try one," Mike said. The Blakesleys thought about a midnight showing for the last two Lord of the Rings movies, he said, but both of those were released in the middle of winter, just before Christmas. Midnight is awfully cold at that time of year, Blakesley said.

  "This is just a little more friendly time of year," he said.

  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was embargoed for public viewing until May 19. To accommodate these rules, the midnight showing does not begin until 12:01 a.m. Thursday, May 19.

  Blakesley isn't expecting a packed house from a midnight show, especially on a school night. But he has had numerous calls from parents asking about the schedule, saying that their child has said he or she "absolutely must" attend the show.

  "You just never know," he said.

[NOTE: The midnight showing of REVENGE OF THE SITH drew a total of 88 people, including 7 who came from Billings when the theatres there were sold out. Our next midnight show was "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," in July 2006. That showing drew 122 people.]