Die-hard fans turn out for ‘Rogue One’

‘Star Wars’ aficionados find empty seats

Star Wars fans Lathen and Leslie Carlson of Yakima give Alexis “Lulu” Taylor of Sunnyside — dressed as Rey from Star Wars: A Force Awakens — a lesson in using a lightsaber at Grand Cinema last night.

Photo by Roger Harnack
Star Wars fans Lathen and Leslie Carlson of Yakima give Alexis “Lulu” Taylor of Sunnyside — dressed as Rey from Star Wars: A Force Awakens — a lesson in using a lightsaber at Grand Cinema last night.



— Fans from throughout the Lower Yakima Valley hit Grand Cinema theater’s big screen last night for the opening of the new “Star Wars” film, “Rogue One.”

At the local theater, fans are encouraged to dress the part of Star Wars characters, wear helmets and even wield lightsabers before and after the show.

Lathen Carlson, 31, and his wife, Leslie Carlson, 28, made the trip here from Yakima because of the theater effort to make movies more enjoyable.

“It’s the only theater in the area that allows lightsabers,” Lathen Carlson said, noting he was surprised there were empty seats in the 3D showing at 7:05 p.m.

“Other theaters were sold out,” he said, noting it almost felt like he and his wife had a private screening of the eighth installment in the Star Wars movie series.

The Carlsons were also in attendance last year here when the Grand Theater presented “Star Wars: A Force Awakens.”

Unlike like last year’s flick, “Rogue One” is a side story, helping diehard fans piece together the original three movies with the subsequent three-movie prequels.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” Lathen Carlson said of the new movie. “I got to see Darth Vader again.”

In fact, the movie included several characters from the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” movie released in 1977.

Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, also known as Gov. Tarkin, returns, as does Princess Leia Organa and her adopted father Alderaan Sen. Bail Organa and, of course, Darth Vader.

Leslie Carlson agreed, but called the vacant seats “bizarre” on an opening night for any movie in the Star Wars genre.

Grand Cinema employees agreed.

Talking among themselves, they agreed that Wednesday’s snow and the following frigid temperatures likely prompted many rainy day fans to stay home.

But Sunnyside’s Alexis “Lulu” Taylor wasn’t one to stay home.

Taylor, a Chief Kamiakin fourth-grade student, chose the movie over watching the Seattle Seahawks defeat the St. Louis Rams last night.

She said she liked that the last two Star Wars movies had girls saving the day.

She showed up at the theater dressed as Rey, the heroine from “A Force Awakens.”

The Carlsons took a few minutes to show her the way of the force in using their custom-made lightsabers as others watched before braving the cold to and snow outside the theater.

“The movie was awesome,” she said.

The theater had six screens dedicated to “Rogue One” last night — one screen was for the 3-D showing.

Grand Cinema will air the movie several times daily for at least the next week.



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