Star Wars: Watching the Force Awaken Deep in Lucas Country

December 18, 2015 7:38 PM

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There’s a hidden gem in the Star Wars legend just 25 miles south of George Lucas’s sprawling Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. Not nearly as flashy as Lucasfilm’s newish digs outside San Francisco, or as original-trilogy evocative as the ranch’s Ewok Lake, the Century Cinema in Corte Madera is nonetheless deeply steeped in Star Wars history. At five P.M. on Thursday night, two long lines snaked around the boxy building as three generations of Star Wars fans lined up to watch The Force Awakens in the theater locals refer to as either “Lucas’s favorite” or, simply, “the big theater.” They still had hours left to wait until the 7 P.M. and 10 P.M. showings, and as the stormy skies threatened to open up, another cloud hung over the scene. Because this movie theater, the most Lucas-loving movie theater in the world, might be seeing its very last Star Wars premiere. A housing developer is threatening to tear down the theater Lucas has poured money, resources, and passion into over the last three decades. For the die-hard fans in line, that mysterious bearded man who lives deep in wilderness might be their, and the theater’s, only hope.

Nearly everyone in line who has lived there awhile has a Lucas story to tell. Many of those stories are of Lucas as regular Marin dad. “I cut him off in the parking lot at Whole Foods once.” “He used to come into the game shop to buy things for his kids.” But, more often than not, those Lucas sighti...

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